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As John Steinbeck wrote, ‘It means very little to know that a million Chinese are starving unless you know one Chinese who is starving.’ Empathy is often confused with pity, sympathy, and compassion, which are each reactions to the plight of others.
Pity is a feeling of discomfort at the distress of one or more sentient beings, and often has paternalistic or condescending overtones.
Empathy can be defined as a person’s ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person, fictional character, or sentient being.
It involves, first, seeing someone else’s situation from his perspective, and, second, sharing his emotions, including, if any, his distress.
Needless to say my respect for her intelligence/education vanished. Even if we don't reach down into our essence our actions should be authentic especially when we are reaching out to other people in need of comfort. Why do we need to place ourselves in other people's shoes?
I need human contact like anyone else, I am not saying people be robots (as you know some people will suggest) but I would rather have authentic sympathy than preten empathy. Isn't just providing support, a shoulder, a listening ear or conversation enough? I think we force the concept of empathy because it allows people to feel closer to another when in reality they might not be, but my point is that is okay!
I cannot empathize with an abstract or detached feeling.
Neel Burton is author of The Shamanic view is different.
They are worth our time, our energy, our empathy, and love. Those who carry that sense of awareness (that what happens to another has direct and indirect influence on him) and responsibility (for the wellbeing of himself and those around him).
I understand why you say that empathy has become a "tag" word.
Implicit in the notion of pity is that its object does not deserve its plight, and, moreover, is unable to prevent, reverse, or overturn it.
Pity is less engaged than empathy, sympathy, or compassion, amounting to little more than a conscious acknowledgement of the plight of its object.
In the first two lines you have stated that you (1) "..a problem with empathy" and (2) "It is to me, impossible for anyone to ever know exactly how anyone is feeling." Before continuing, i'd like to revert back to the definition of empathy that was provided in the original article in an effort to minimize confusion, because that seems to be the more universally accepted definition and it appears that these are the definitions used in your response.