‘Feeling another’s pain’ is the new third way in politics. It stands in between Trump’s hatred which discourages empathy with others whom you do not identify with (putting Trumpism mildly here); and those who care but won’t go that extra mile with a generosity of feelings.
Can’t sympathise with children who will go hungry this winter during school holidays? Not an empath.
Ever tried giving up your weekly order of having hand cut flowers freshly delivered in crystal bowls? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you still don’t quality. No, you are not an empath.
This is a clear example of what an empath is NOT:
As Ocado’s grocery deliveries were whittled down to one a week and the food halls at Harrods, which had served customers throughout the second world war, shuttered early in the current crisis, we had to find our sustenance elsewhere. (Taken from the FT article – link above.)
There is no equivalency between giving up privileges and giving up essentials. Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Go educate yourself if you haven’t. It will ground you in realising what is ‘essential’ and what is not.
Food is essential. Foie Gras is not essential, even though it’s food. Green spaces are essential to human wellbeing. Landscaped gardens tucked away behind locked gates for people who are hardly in the country to enjoy them are not essential. Get the picture?
The ability to sympathise and feel empathy with others during these pandemic times is the high moral point of possessing humanity.
The landslide election win by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, was largely due to her successful handling of the pandemic but her enormous ability to empathise with others was an internationally recognised key part of her political engagement process.
Contrast that with Donald Trump’s attitude. Michael D’Antonio, Trump’s biographer, said that while, ‘Biden feels other’s pain’, ‘Trump doesn’t even feel his own’. That takes the capacity for a lack of empathy to a whole other level. If you can’t even feel for yourself, you truly are a sad shadow of a pale imitation of a human being. In fact, Joe Biden nailed it when he said that the, ‘election is the battle for the soul of America’.
Empathy has become important because, if transferred into concrete action, it goes some way to bridging the inequality gap that has been prised even further apart from the economic pandemic fall out. Let’s hope that Biden wins and wins big on November 3 because, heaven knows, we need an avalanche of empathy from global leaders to help dampen down the powder-keg of tensions boiling within that inequality gap.