Monday, April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City...and empathy

The Difference
(by R.P.Edwards)

Sympathy and Empathy
The difference…by degree
One is sorry for your loss
The other… “once, was me”
So sympathy is precious
A warm extended hand
But empathy embraces
“Your pain…I understand”

Fifteen years ago, today, a malcontent by the name of Timothy  McVeigh parked a chemical laden rental truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and, after lighting a fairly quick fuse, he then made a hurried exit moments before the enormous explosion that not only claimed 168 innocent lives, but also shocked the nation.  Fifteen years ago, today.

Well, since I’ve been keeping a journal for quite some time I thought perhaps I would have mentioned said event in my ancient scribbles.  So, after going into the vault (basement) and retrieving the appropriate notebook, I turned to the vicinity and…nothing.  Not a mention on that day, or thereafter.  Nothing but the simple actions and anxieties of yours truly.  Seems I was still in a “probationary” period for my “new” job and this, and other family related issues…drew my focus.  Typical.

The word…is empathy.  An “I know what you’re going through” kind of thing.  I’m sure, at the time, I expressed some sympathy at the untoward loss (especially for the children), but it was not personal.  It was not a heart wrenching/tearing event.  It was more akin to the emotional moving produced by a well crafted movie or play.  Yes, I have a “feel” for you, but not a knowing.

Having said that, I do believe there are those among us with true empathy.  I am certain there are many, silently beside us, whose arms are not merely guessing, but, with the embrace, bring a certain knowing and burden bearing.  And, for these; for these who revisit their old wounds in order to heal, I say, thank God.  Yes, thank God for these who have been horribly hurt…and yet dare to ease the pain of another.  So, concerning the many around us who are suffering (if you’ll look; they are there) if you, if especially you, know their pain, know their agony, know…their despair; then please, please, reach out; reach out to them and say… “I know what you’re going through.”  Sometimes…that’s all that can be done.  And sometimes…that’s all that’s needed.

That’s what I think.  How about you?  Click comments below…and say.

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