Wednesday, October 31, 2001

I want to feel your pain

I think I've lost my ability to feel empathy for other people.

I know in theory that it's bad for other people to be hurt. I fully support efforts to relieve sufferent and will fight for a better world. It's not hard to recognize that others' pain is horrible and just shouldn't happen. But a basic problem remains:

I don't feel their pain.

I think that I'm incapable of even understanding or coming to terms with what it means to suffer or to be assaulted by the world or another person. When someone tells me about something bad that happened, I can't even imagine what that's like. I've become so obsessed with my own, trivial problems that I'm unable to sympathize with others or really REALIZE the horrors that they're going through. One might say that this isn't a problem, just so long as I recognize that other people have rights and that those shouldn't be hurt. Unfortunately, it is a problem. If my self-interest ever comes in to conflict with someone else's, I'm horrified that I might weigh my short-sighted, selfish wants more than the easing of someone else's pain. This is the exact same mindset that has allowed people to commit horrific crimes and to dismiss the wants and needs of other people.

Yeah, I feel guilty... but that's the problem. My guilt is just another example of me feeing sorry for myself. This whole rant is just another pathetic attempt to justify myself with my own "suffering." Maybe I just need to imagine what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. I'm honestly trying, but it's really difficult.

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