Thursday, August 8, 2013

I hate bad news - empathy for all

I hate bad news. Today I heard one of those horrible stories about people hurting each other. A terrible, horrible story of pain inflicted on other people. I just wanted to run away. I got mad, mad at the people who told me the story, mad at the reporter telling the story, and mad at the people who had committed these vile acts. Mad ma mad.

I stomped around my house, shouting at nobody, "how could they"?!? I may have even broken a drawer I opened it so fast and hard.

Then I calmed down. I remembered this story recently, about how psychopaths can turn on and off their empathy like a switch. 

They don't have any empathy for their victims, I thought. They could, if they chose to, but they don't.

One of the reasons that I practice empathy is so that it's natural for me. So that it becomes a part of who I am. So that I can live this life without hurting other people.

I also practice empathy every chance I get so that when I hear someone talk about hurting others, I won't turn away from them in anger.

So what does empathy mean for me?

It means that every time I meet a new person, I smile, I make eye contact, I say hello. I practice putting myself in their shoes. I make effort. I try not to judge.

It's about keeping my mind ON empathy, and not letting myself turn it off. Even for the most evil among us.



SL said...

I try to avoid listening to the news. News about people who deliberately hurt each other puzzles me. Human understanding of the difference between good and evil almost makes the existence of evil possible. Empathy for all human beings is difficult to maintain in a crowded city.

Tuey said...

when I get quick, responsive angry, I act stupid.

Janet said...

Thanks SL and Tuey.

SL; I also find it difficult to understand how people can hurt each other deliberately. It's one of the harder tasks in empathy; can I look at someone who has committed such an act, and see them as a person? I'm not saying I want to forgive them, or to say what they did was acceptable.

I'm just trying to see them as people.