A call to empathy

It’s so easy to sit in judgment of parents and children and zookeepers and strangers. People who you’ve never met.

It’s so easy.

It’s infinitely harder to person up. To pull loose your heart strings. To release the strict hold you keep on your borders and really look at another person.

Because really seeing means letting yourself be seen. Means being vulnerable. Means realizing that the things that we judge other people for are things that we do all the time.

Who hasn’t been guilty of letting our guard down for a moment? The only difference between all of us and certain mothers and zookeepers is that we weren’t the ones taking our eyes off of our child at that crucial second.

We weren’t. But we could have been.

And that fact is the thing that keeps us from true empathy with other human beings.

Because acknowledging that the only thing separating us and them is a cruel blend of circumstance and blind luck is too terrifying to handle.

So we blame. And we stand up and call for the heads of people who have made the same small mistakes that we make every day at a critical moment that ended in tragedy.

Blame is easier. Judgment is easier. Hatred is easier.

Love is hard. Empathy is hard. Compassion is hard.

Within those three things dwells the sharp knowledge that we, in all of our convictions and certainty, are as fragile and as vulnerable to harm as the people we are so quick to villainize.

Empathy is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The easier it becomes to do the hard work of looking at another person and recognizing yourself.

Try it. You’ll see.

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12 thoughts on “A call to empathy

  1. This is so true. I was worried to click on your post because I was worried it was going to be one of those hundreds of articles that demanded justice be served. That was ready to point a finger to someone. What happened is devastating, and the blame game that has many in frenzy is equally worse because it so much easier to blame and hate but to love and to have empathy without judgement is so much harder

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad that you decided to click and to read. I am so tired of anger and hatred and judgment. What happened was so awful. And the people who are calling for the heads of all involved never seem to utter a peep at the weekly and sometimes daily human rights atrocities that reach my ears.

      Like

  2. Thank you for this. Some of these thoughts were in my head when I wrote a poem (from a different topic) this morning, but you have written with a clarity I couldn’t approach.

    “Because acknowledging that the only thing separating us and them is a cruel blend of circumstance and blind luck is too terrifying to handle.”

    Like

  3. Empathy is a lost emotion among the masses. They are comfortable to recline and blame the parents or the zoo and some even the kid. But they don’t ever think what they would have done in the same situation. A powerful piece, I’m glad there are people with such sane minds.

    Like

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