There seems to be a rise in this country in an utter lack of empathy. According to dictionary.com. empathy is “the psychological identification with or vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts or the attitudes of another.” As opposed to sympathy, you don’t need to have been in the shoes of another to feel what they feel. No one is perfect and with so much suffering in this world it’s hard to be emphatic to everything around you. But shutting down to it or making things worse for those with less than you seems unnecessarily cruel. And that is on the rise.
Aggression, selfishness and self-survival stem from this lack of empathy and appear prevalent in our society. People are on their phones and virtually ignore cashiers who are engaged in an exchange. Now some cashier barely engage any more. Drivers are reckless and aggressive toward other motorists, also referred to as road rage. How many stories have we heard where a person is injured or assaulted and folks walk on by? Why do so many of us leave a wake of physical or emotional damage behind us without so much as a consideration of what we may have caused? How can we live day to day in this wealthy nation and ignore those who are hungry, homeless or socially lost? Why is being a jerk so acceptable?
It’s the day after Easter when Christians reflect on Jesus’ ultimate act of empathy, dying to redeem the sins of man, and who said, “(W)hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”.So for those of you who are open and vocal Christians and do not live by these words, aren’t you hypocrites?
The most egregious are the hypocrites. When I hear someone preface their world view with their Christianity – or any religion – to justify their lack of empathy, that seems hypocritical. In various versions the word “hypocrite” is used in the Bible’s New Testament, book of Matthew (7:1-3), where Jesus says, “ Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Translation: Jesus is talking about judging others and not considering their circumstances.
I have seen persons of outward faith quick to use their religion to justify acts that seem to lack empathy. I won’t question anyone’s religious belief but that I don’t get. Empathy is a cornerstone for all religion. Wouldn’t behaving in a way that judges another without first putting on his or her shoes to understand their heart, suffering or need not be a void in empathy?