Empathy by Regina Tingle

I have a dear friend who refuses to smack her child back when her child smacks her in the face.  I have a huge amount of respect for her because of that.  Logically, it make sense.  If hitting is against the rules in her house then there will be no hitting.  Period.  A rule is a rule and that goes especially for the enforcer of the rule.  That’s the way it should be.  But it isn’t.    


Things are just not the way they should be in the world when something like what happened in Georgia happened yesterday and it was dubbed “justice.”  It’s not like these things haven’t happened in the past, many many many shameful times in my very own homestate of Texas.  But I am waiting.  It is a terrible thing–what happened in Georgia–but I do believe that good will come of this.  It will bring about discussion and change and the good people in the world will show their faces, let their voices be heard: A rule is a rule, a law is a law: if thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not kill.  


So is my prayer.


I pray for you and you pray for me: that is empathy, that is love.  We are all capable of it, really.    


For example: being me is really a lot like being anyone, I suppose.  That’s the secret, I think.  Getting out of myself for long enough to remember or see the world from someone else’s eyes.  The problems arise when the rest of the world (the person I’m arguing with in the moment) forgets to do the same.  When empathy or sympathy only goes one direction it feels dusty and destitute and dry and lacking vegetation.  We’ve all been, at least once, to that lonely, familiar place.  

Another dear friend once told me about a particular instance that happened while nursing her baby daughter.  She was double-tasking, simultaneously breastfeeding and reading her email.  Whatever it was she was reading overwhelmed her with emotion she began to cry.  Wiping her tears away, she looked down at her bright-eyed daughter who had stopped nursing and was reaching up towards her mother’s tear-streaked face.  Was her infant reaching toward her in wonder, out of curiosity or was it out of pure empathy?  If it was out of empathy, that which separates us from the beasts (and I’d like to believe it was) it makes me wonder: at what point in our lives to we decide to forget empathy?  

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