Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Empathy for the Devil

Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man.....a confused stranger in fact.

Hey, I'm Toby!
A stranger to myself.

Let me try to explain my dilemma.

I used to think I was quite in tune with others and their concerns, but if feels more like I'm reserving it for the greater good than individual empathy of late.

I'm very sympathetic to situations (Bali 9), but apparently have a harsher rub when it comes to putting myself in their position.

Are my personal feelings of empathy conditional? In which case, it's actually not empathy at all, simply sympathy but with my personal bias attached?

I think of the 8 people executed yesterday in Bali.

None of us can imagine how they were feeling, nor how their families were feeling. So our inability to empathise...is it purely dependent on having experienced a similar situation?

"I can relate to that"...

Oh, he can relate to it...yes he can

Is that all empathy is? Because you can't truly put yourself in someone else's shoes and know how they feel, you can only do that and know how you THINK they might feel, if they were YOU.

If empathy is limited to your own experiences, then perhaps all my empathy has been misguided and is simply me being judgemental about a situation I can't relate to?

Are any of us empathising with the families of the deceased?

If so, how?

Someone stubs their toe.
You feel sorry for them, wince a bit...we've all been there.
We understand their pain and can relate. We empathise.

Someone traffics drugs, spends 10 years on death row and is then executed.
Can anyone empathise with that? I don't think so.

What about the families? I don't think so either

So, with my limited experiences in life with anything requiring any great amount of concern, does this mean I am low on empathy?

If so, that's kind of distressing.

Sorry Tiger, you're on your own...
What's the solution? I mean, I want to be empathic towards people. I believe my left-leaning ideologies prove I have concerns for people needing assistance, refuge, help, whatever it is.

I believe Governments should look out for people in need because they are the most vulnerable in our society. But is that simply an philosophy rather than a reasoned, empathic belief?

Am I destined to simply be a potential shoulder for others to cry on, with them saying "Thanks for being here, but you don't understand"?

Thanks, but you're not helping
I'm occasionally told, like most men are, that I need to stop trying to solve things. Like Christopher Pyne, don't be a fixer. God, I need a picture for that.

It's okay, I got this!
Is part of the problem that I, like most men, think I have the answers for everything, and as a result, lose sight of our empathy. Altering the situation to suit the response we are capable of giving, rather than just shutting the hell up and listening? The watchful eye, the down-turned mouth suggesting "oh dear" and a reassuring pat on the arm.

Is the best evidence of empathy "here, have a hot beverage"?

I'm at a loss.

What I thought I was doing, I'm clearly not - and it bothers me greatly.





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