Where was the empathy? Empathy shares, and recognize the thoughts and feeling of another person or animal and is crucial for developing relationships, according to Webster. It is the fuel to compassion. The inhumane beating and death of Tyre Nichols made me question their empathy. Crying out for one’s mother should have connected with at least one of those officers. After all, the moms in an African American home are considered the bedrock and the initial foundation of where we derive our self- worth, and where we seek protection and shielding. Although the officers were of the same race, it is obvious there was no empathy, or was there? Can compassion work where there is no empathy? I was always taught that empathy is when you place yourself in the other person’s shoes. This is only one aspect of empathy as you will see in the following paragraphs.
In 1908 empathy appeared as a translation of the German Einfühlung (literally “in-feeling”). Empathy initially basic meaning of projecting one’s own imagined feelings and movements into objects, rather than understanding another person. By the Second World War, social psychologists began devising experiments to gauge a subject’s empathy for others. Empathy now meant that one could make correct predictions about another person’s preferences, without contaminating those predictions with one’s own ideas. As empathy came to denote the ability to accurately grasp another’s thoughts and feelings, the idea that it was an aesthetic projection of one’s own feelings into objects disappeared.
Today, in psychology and neuroscience, empathy is a multifaceted term that sometimes entails the emotional understanding of others’ feelings, sometimes describes a cognitive grasp of another’s thinking processes, and at other times means acting in a caring manner to others. Because of this complexity, scientific studies of empathy now specify at the outset the type ofempathy under examination, Says Susan Ladoni, Ph.D
As stated, there are degrees of empathy. one can have empathy without compassion but you cannot have compassion without empathy. Compassion is the act that stems from empathy with a desire to alleviate distress. It extends a helping hand and is full of mercy.
In order to truly have compassion for others, we must have compassion for ourselves. By developing compassion, it will move the needle toward empathy. As such, the first step to developing compassion is to work on YOU. At the end of this blog, you will find three activities that will help develop compassion.
Biblically, compassion epitomizes Gods very being (Exodus 34:6) The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God”). Those who are Believers, Christians, and Kingdom believers should imitate their God. As previously stated, compassion is action and extends a helping hand to alleviate distress. One may say, we give out food to the poor, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for the homeless. As stated in James, true religion cares for the poor, orphans, and widow (James 1:27; Probers 19:17). So, “there” we met our obligation. Sure, you barely met the criteria the issue is “one for you and two for me”, one for you, and three for me, you get the gist. How much of our giving is really given out of compassion and integrity? That is something we have to reckon with God. Ananias and Sapphira did a marvelous thing and sold their possession to give to their community of believers who were without. The couple, however, attempted to deceive. They gave a portion of what they said they sold it for, (Acts 5:1-11). In other words, they lied. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another (Ephesian 4:25). This is to shed light on God’s take on what honesty looks like and bring awareness to what true compassion looks like.
In closing, most may empathize but few show compassion. The officers may have exemplified anesthetic empathy, and numbness to the pain they were inflicting on Mr. Nichols. Thus the young man did not stand a chance. Compassion could have possibly saved him. What do you think?
Takeaway: Make sure compassion filters into your heart. Realize, maintaining compassion may be somewhat difficult, as society seemed to have grown dark and heartless. Yet, circumspective living is required by Christians. I leave with you the bible scripture Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Action: Start with self-compassion. While the internet shared a wide range of resources on developing compassion, I found the following 3 points helpful
Think of an imaginary friend who is wise, loving, and compassionate and write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your friend.
Write a letter as if you were talking to a dearly beloved friend who was struggling with the same concerns as you.
Write a letter from the compassionate part of yourself to the part of yourself that is struggling. After writing the letter, you can put it down for a while and then read it later, letting the words soothe and comfort you when you need it most. Please let me know which of the three worked for you.
Dr. Char, MS, DCC