Friday, December 21, 2012

Apathy, Sympathy and Empathy

My dear friends on Mother Earth,

Am pained and disturbed. Deeply disturbed. By men and women. By their apathy (indifference) and lip-service sympathy (sic) to fellow human-beings. Without love and compassion; when Dogs and Elephants have high level of them! Folks, I strongly believe that the opposite of love is APATHY and NOT hate.

Will share couple of real-life scenarios to make understand the three terms better. Shall I?

Scenario 1

In 2010, I was on a thanks-giving visit to Sabarimala with a group of 17 including a 70 year-old woman whose 5 blood relatives were also part of the troupe. Well, to cut the long story short, all the 15(Except the old woman and ‘Yours Truly’) rushed to climb the hill leaving us. I was in a child-like bliss and started my walk very slowly, watching and enjoying the nature. I saw this old lady struggling to climb the hill. She was panting for breath. I was shocked to find none of her so-called blood relatives whom she fed were there to help her climb. Probably, they all were busy to mark their attendance to Lord Ayyappa before the closing time of 12 Noon!

I removed the heavy irumudi bag from her head and also two other bags which she was carrying. I put my arm around her shoulder and cared for her the same way I used to care  my biological mother during our spiritual trips, including that wonderful blissful trip to Vaishno Devi in 1996. With every  100m, we rested for a minute, gave her Glucose, Pine apple bites laced with salt etc, to shore up the energy. We reached abode the hill and it was half past 12 Noon. The ‘gang’ by then had finished marking the ‘attendance’, but then it must have stuck them that they have left back the old lady! Upon seeing us their palpable tension was relieved. The tired septuagenarian lady didn’t utter any word to them! Later, in the evening, when all had gathered in the room, I apologized to her that couldn’t make her see Ayyappa before noon. She shot back saying ”Ravi, why do you have to come all the way here to see Ayyappa?”(meaning when HE is already inside me!) Hearing that I was in a blissful state(which can’t be shared but can only be experienced!) Went to HIM and thanked HIM for having made me a ‘humane’ human being!

(Ps: Lesson learnt, her 5 blood relatives and others as well took utmost care of the old lady during the climb-down. I was not required! Hah Ha!)

Scenario 2

A highly ‘pure’ angel-like friend of mine has a child who is a dyslexic. She says that she is unable to take her child for social functions as the so called intelligent human beings are apathic. Some have sympathy but absolutely no empathy. Sometimes they laugh at the child for being unable to comprehend simple things. The mother is deeply disturbed. So are the mothers of children who are autistic, mentally retarded, spastic, physically/visually challenged etc. Are you with me? Can you feel how they all FEEL everyday, every single minute?

Scenario 3

A friend of mine and his friend, both visually challenged, were standing in a bus stand to take a bus to go to college. There was lot of people around. On seeing these two, some were apathic and some felt sympathy(In Thamizh, ‘Ayyo paavam’) and when their bus came they all left. No one was there to help these two wonderful souls to board the correct bus they are supposed to take. Can you please put yourself in those two people’s shoes and think? Wouldn’t you have waited to help these two souls?

Scenario 4

An intelligent woman holds a doctorate and who has two children hires a Kitchen Enabler(a.k.a cook).Even if she is late even for a few minutes in the morning or evening, she scolds her without realizing that the cook too has young children to be sent to school and she is a mother as well like this doctorate woman! Let’s spare a thought to those who help us. Shouldn’t we?

Folks, do you need any more scenarios to understand the concept of Apathy, Sympathy and Empathy? 

Now, please CTRL+ click and visit the blog on Values.

It’s lack of compassion, isn’t it?

Now, have you read that blog? I suspect lack of compassion is the reason for people lacking empathy which is the highest form of LOVE, wise opine. I suspect that Empathy cannot be taught using a PPT. It has to come from within and that experience is the best teacher. I say that empathy must be taught during childhood (Ideally by parents, notably mother) According to me, lack of empathy was/is a common symptom of narcissism. There are lots of them amidst us, isn’t it? What do you say? They have to be reformed, isn’t it?

Sympathy and Empathy  - There’s a thin wedge separating the two

Therefore, Sympathy is a socially generated emotion, and empathy is a spiritually generated emotion. I have learnt to have empathy even with the apathic people mentioned in the examples above as they do not ‘love’ and mostly those people weren’t loved either especially during childhood.

For better understanding of Sympathy and Empathy please click and watch this video.

In other words, Empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions, and direct experience of others. It goes beyond sympathy, which is a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering of others. Both words have similar usage but differ in their emotional meaning. Empathy is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes". So empathy is a deeper emotional experience. Empathy is known to increase pro-social (helping) behaviors. Empathic people make awesome leaders, artists, doctors etc. 

Folks, don’t you think IF humans beings, like Dogs and Elephants(Watch DC/AP channels) have loads of empathy- THEN wouldn’t the family, state, country and this beautiful world be a better place? What do you say? Do munch and share your FEELINGS on this. 

Friends, I apologise for the gap in writing. But somehow someone, known or unknown, gently tap my shoulder to make me write again. I thank them and God or God-particle for this intervention.

Allow me to end sharing loads of unconditional and undiluted love , compassion and empathy to all of you and your wonderful families and friends. Do share the LIFE JUICE in this blog with them. Wouldn't you?

Amen! Tashvidanya!


You can, in a small way, gently shake the world” - Mahatma Gandhi

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