Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Empathy?

Thank you for your comments and opinions. I understand why this article attracts as much criticism as it does. Many people are still angry at the posts made by Anton Casey. On first reading my commentary, many may have felt as if I was somehow sympathetic to his actions. I was not, for that would have been condoning his wrong.

To be clear, Anton Casey’s behaviour was not acceptable, and yes, it did anger me. It was anti-social and mean-spirited. He did not demonstrate any empathy towards those he mocked and he deserved to be firmly put in his place. And many of us did exactly that.

But clearly, this wasn’t enough for some. More than just rebukes and condemnation, we hounded and harassed not just him, but also the people around him. We made demands on his employer and even threatened his family with harm. That is what led me to write about the need for empathy.

Anton Casey spared no thought for the feelings of those he hurt. But have we not done the same? That was the point of my article. It was not a defense of his actions, but a question about our own. When did we become such an angry people, that we no longer have the capacity to reflect on whether we are answering a wrong with an even bigger wrong?

To affirm what many of you have fed back to me, showing empathy and kindness does not mean letting others walk all over us. We categorically reject unacceptable boorishness.

But I remain hopeful that we will rediscover our empathy, so that we will not over-react, and be more reflective of our own reactions, especially considering those innocent others around those who have done us wrong. That we don’t become vengeful and spiteful, for then, wouldn’t we end up harming ourselves?