The Painful Magic of Empathy II

It is highly significant, and indeed almost a rule, that moral courage has its source in such identification through one’s own sensitivity with the suffering of one’s fellow human beings. I am tempted to call this “perceptual courage“ because it depends on one’s capacity to perceive, to let oneself see the suffering of other people. If we let ourselves experience the evil, we will be forced to do something about it. It is a truth, recognizable in all of us, that when we don’t want to become involved, when we don’t want to confront even the issue of whether or not we will come to the aid of someone who is being unjustly treated, we block off our perception, we blind ourselves to the others suffering, we cut off our empathy with the person needing help. Hence the most prevalent form of cowardice in our day hides behind the statement, “I did not want to become involved.”

~ Rollo May, The Courage To Create, p17

[Art: “Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco de Goya]

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