Two siblings of human nature, both beautiful, one more than the other……..The ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is how the dictionary defines empathy. It simply means awareness and understanding of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves. Sympathy is defined by the dictionary as feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Feeling sympathy means you feel sorry or sad for someone’s situation, even if you’ve never been there yourself.
Sympathy normally comes naturally to humans, it’s not difficult to feel sorry for others, at times it is not expressed , only felt yet many a times it is seen in small actions. Hari had lost his father all of 76 years, the cremation was just over. His friends had gathered at the crematorium, as they left each one approached Hari to take leave, some folded their hands in respect, others tapped him on the shoulders and some hugged him briefly . Each one felt sorry for Hari, each ones reaction was different , all felt sad for him……There was sympathy in their hearts. At the same time there were people who felt, so what? 76 is old age and die each one has to. The incident failed to ignite the feelings of sympathy, they failed to understand Hari’s sadness, that’s because the animal instincts in them overpowered their human instincts. Inspite of this they too patted or embraced Hari as they left, that was a social compulsion, their show of sympathy was socially motivated.
In a similar manner there hundreds of occasions where you feel sad or have sympathy for others during your lifetime , a class mate fails his exams, you sympathise, a friend who just failed to get admission to a college of his choice, you sympathise , your sibling didn’t get selected to the school football team, all these are instances where one feels sad or sympathises for the others failures or losses. Humans, the normally oriented will always naturally sympathise with others in their grief, bad times and sadness……….It is basic human nature, but beyond this and most important is to Empathise.
The naughty boy flung a stone at the barking dog. It hit the stray on his hind legs and it wailed in pain..It couldn’t run now, it was limping. Roshan was witnessing this, as the dog wailed , Roshan felt the pain in his legs too, he looked angrily at the naughty boy and shooed him away. He walked towards the injured dog but it was scared and kept limping away. Roshan stopped , bent down and called out to the dog who slowly halted and then limped towards him. Roshan could understand the dogs feelings, his pain, he could experience the dogs misfortune….He could empathise with the dogs situation. This is not just sympathising. This is one of the greatest character that humans posses ….Empathy.
Arjun worked as a multipurpose worker with the primary health center . He carried the vaccine carrier and other medicines as he gridded along the wet muddy train along with the auxillary nurse midwife and the attendant on their way for an immunization session. As they reached the village he noticed two children at home who were lying on the mud verandah. They looked ill. The mother was sitting alongside and stichting their worn and torn dresses. He enquired as to what was wrong, the mother said nothing, the small girly wailed she was hungry. The mother tried to shut her up. One look again at the children and Arjun knew they were really hungry. Thin and emaciated, anemic and malnourished. Their father worked far away in the city and probably hadn’t sent any money. The mother had nothing to feed the children, she too looked emaciated. Arjun sat down beside them, opened his tiffin and motioned to the children to join him. His tiffin was packed with 5 bhakris( sorghum bread). He had a voracious appetite and so his wife always packed his tiffin with excess food. The children slowly moved toward him, he offered them a bhakri each with the vegetable curry. The mother looked the other way. He realised that she too hadn’t had any food. He asked to get some water and a plate. As she got them he put two bhakris and some curry into the plate and pushed it towards her. He could see and feel their hunger, the bhakri that was left he started to eat. He watched them all eat slowly, their eyes wet. He understood their situation, he felt satiated as he saw them eat. No one spoke, they were thankful for the meal, he was happy he understood their situation and could help . This is how he empathised with them. The beauty of human nature. Empathy is gods gift to human nature and behaviour. Nothing can explain the happiness one gets and the happiness one spreads when you empathise.
To have the twin qualities of sympathy and empathy surely makes the world a happier place to live in. When you empathise the God within you comes alive.