Just before writing this, I read what looked on the outset, to be an excellent story on empathy. The article included a warm, fuzzy Brené Brown video in the first portion of the story. I loved the little video. It explained the difference between empathy and sympathy. I thought it set the tone for the story. I was wrong.
After the opening paragraphs, the video and a bit of self-reflection, the writer went after the political right, who apparently lacks any kind of empathy. I think she forgot the rule. You can’t feel empathy and judge at the same time. At least I can’t.
The writer of the above-mentioned story, gave as examples of her own capacity for empathy, her extreme dislike of the entertainment value created by online videos of people hurting themselves and others, how the author cries during movies and can’t keep a straight face when emotions are involved.
Empathy, as it is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online Learners Dictionary, is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.”
What we must all remember about empathy is its required lack of judgment, of a person, place or situation. If I throw an entire population under the bus to prove how empathic I am, it’s a moot point.
We are complex people living in uncertain times. Far too often I see people trying to prove themselves better or different, at the expense of others.
In our education system, the idea of teaching children empathy has been floated more than once. Some school systems are looking at adding classes on the subject.
There is a problem with this idea. Empathy isn’t taught in a classroom, unless you consider life your school. Empathy starts at home, when a mother soothes a hurting child. When instead of using a situation to teach a lesson, she embraces her child, understanding and feeling her pain. The child receives empathy and begins to learn how it is expressed.
Empathy isn’t about politics nor immigration. Empathy doesn’t care about the color of skin, your religion nor social status. Empathy is simply one soul connecting to another in time of need.
Jesus set the empathic bar high. It’s His example I try to emulate. He healed the dirty, the diseased, the forgotten among us. Jesus touched and healed lepers. He forgave those who persecuted Him, understanding some of them knew not what they were doing. Jesus sacrificed His life in a very public and painful way, creating a path to freedom for those who choose to take it. He loved to His last breath and beyond. He did so with true empathy and zero judgement. He understood the difference.
Robin Aldrich is the author of Bootstrapped! Creating a Small Business on a Budget. Robin founded the Boomerang Business Project in 2015 to help entrepreneurs thrive through personal and professional development.
For more info, please visit Robin’s website!
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Originally published at medium.com