Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy. The catalyst for all of this pondering was Pam Bondi speaking at the Republican National Convention. She said this:
Hillary believes our enemies deserve our respect and empathy.
The crowd booed.
This reaction really got under my skin. The idea that we should treat our enemies without respect and empathy is monstrous. Full stop.
Empathy is what makes us human. If we discard empathy, we lose an integral piece of our humanity. We lose the ability to understand the plight of others. We lose the ability to connect with others on an emotional level.
Empathy is at the heart of The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you. This concept is so important that it is a major theme in most of the world’s religions and is the cornerstone of civilizations around the world. Peace can only be maintained, at the micro level and at the macro level, when we understand each other and when we treat each other with respect.
One of the most rewarding things about reading is that books allow us to empathize with people very different from us and people we might never encounter in our lives. This is also the reason accurate, diverse representation is so important in all media.
I’ll leave you with Mark Ruffalo talking with Murray on Sesame Street about empathy, because adorable. Watch to the end if you want to see a happy dance.
Be kind. Be Respectful.