Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Serving Those Whose Pains We Don't Understand: Empathy vs. Sympathy

Empathy - J. Stapley (By Common Consent) 

My comment from the thread is #18:

I believe deeply that one of the worst aspects of our modern Mormon culture is out tendency to remove ourselves from the lives of people who are objectively different than we are in ways we consider to be sinful – specifically because segregating ourselves from them robs us of the chance to feel their pain and succor them in it. It removes us from the actual life-model of Jesus of Nazareth.

I loved Pres. Uchtdorf’s talks in which he told us all to stop it – and, specifically, to stop judging others for sinning differently than we do – and to be His hands. Until we feel someone’s pain in some real way at some real level, we simply can’t partake in the Atonement in a real and meaningful way. At the most basic level, that simply must include real-life interaction and personalization. It has to rest on empathy, not sympathy – and certainly not loathing, disgust and disdain. It has to involve succoring people IN their pain, not just preaching to / lecturing at them about why we think they caused that pain and how we think they can make that pain stop.

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