The Agony and the Ecstasy of Empathy
A wonderful post came across my twitter feed on the subject of empathy. As the author so diligently points out, much of what he writes, on the surface, is common sense to the human condition but the conundrum is – “if it is natural why is it so difficult to practice?”
Empathy is a misunderstood emotion. It is a companion emotion, usually accompanied by courage and patience, sometimes by frustration. There are numerous books and articles, such as the one I reference above, written about it. The dictionary describes it as ” the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Humans are funny. We want, dare I say, aspire, to understand the feeling of another but when put in a situation, whether it be at the negotiating table or on a date, we tend to react selfishly. This is not to say that we are bad people or inherently selfish but our reaction is self-protectionand preservation. Thank Darwin.
It seems timely to discuss this topic on the heels of the visit by Pope Francis to the United States. This is one of his main messages for humanity, not just for Catholics. The greatest leaders in the history of the free world can credit their accomplishment to the understand of another’s situation, whether it is geopolitical, humanitarian or technologically-driven.
The human brain is built for complex thought and emotion. It craves an opportunity to discover something new not just about ourselves but that people in our lives. The idea of self-discovery is a misnomer. A person can not grow without a catalyst for doing so.
Therein lies the agony and ecstasy of empathy.
Music mood: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John
“For unless they see the sky… But they can’t and that is why..They know not if it’s dark outside or light…”
your A & E xo