Wednesday, April 20, 2005

E is for Empathy


Oh man, sorrow comes!
will the master leave his sheep?
Empathy draws nigh.


Empathy: The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this (Merriam Webster)

The sharing of these feelings with another is attributed to past life experiences in the receiver. One cannot escape pain and suffering no matter how desperately one tries. In order to truly appreciate freedom, one must suffer at the hands of tyranny- otherwise, the majority who have not, take freedom for granted.

It is striking that the higher an individual’s level of development, the more he is able to forego empathy and replace it with hard logic, willfully closing off his past life experiences in the process. On the other hand, those in the majority who fall within the normal realm of development are inclined to empathize with another who is suffering.

The danger to the highly developed individual is the absence of connectedness with the human race, thereby isolating himself into a world of his own making. If such is the case, these individuals should not marry and have children for the expected pain and suffering within his family would not be understood.

For those with this elevated sense, it is not impossible to find a balance between objectivity and sensitivity. Constant interaction with others- sharing ideas with different factions, contributing his talents to those less fortunate are good first steps.

Finding a balance in fact, is the standard all should strive to achieve. I imagine these individuals would perform well as philosopher kings. Leaders should be so lucky.

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