For Those on the Left, Empathy Is Destructive

 

Two of my three daughters are world-class athletes. The oldest is a freaky fast 6’4″ who could shoot from anywhere, and was captain of the Duke basketball team. The youngest (“Linda”) is a little taller, a little faster, and plays volleyball for Georgetown.  Their middle sister is the world’s only 5’10” girl with a short complex.  She’s a brilliant pianist and was a very good high school athlete. But not an athletic freak like her sisters.

Anyway, all three girls are home for Thanksgiving, and it’s been wonderful. One of the Bastiat family Christmas traditions is we make gingerbread, then bake and decorate gingerbread cookies as a family. It doesn’t sound like much, but to us, it’s a big deal. Always a big production, as you can see from the picture.

Linda’s best friend is “Lisa,” who was a classmate of hers in high school, and basically lives at our house when she’s home from college. Lisa says she’s 5’2″, but that might be optimistic. I find it fascinating that these girls are inseparable even though they look so, um, striking together — but it works.

She and Linda both have issues about body image. People have always remarked upon their height. They have trouble buying clothes. Lisa wears a size-5 shoe, which is not easy to find. Linda wears a 14. Also not easy to find. You might consider their problems to be opposites, but they view them as the same thing. Which, really, they are. All of our problems are basically the same, right? Which seems weird. Except it’s not. So Lisa becomes our emergency backup fourth Bastiat sister. She fits right in. To us.

Empathy is a beautiful thing. It’s not sympathy. It’s understanding someone else’s difficulties. You can have empathy for someone that is not exactly like you. In fact, that’s the best type of empathy. Because then, at that point, you realize that we’re all essentially the same, and we’re all doing the best we can. Lisa hopes to earn an art scholarship. Linda feels the pressure as a scholarship athlete every time she has a bad practice. They talk on the phone, and they can empathize, even if they don’t quite understand. I can think of nothing more beautiful.

I can think of nothing more beautiful.

Once we’re no longer permitted to empathize with those different from us, and once we’re expected to agree with everything that is said by ‘our tribe’, then our society will self-destruct.  This seems obvious to me.  It probably also seems obvious to Lisa and Linda, in their ill-fitting shoes.

Seeking comfort by avoiding uncomfortable associations leads to discomfort.  Like uncomfortable shoes. Lisa and Linda understand ill-fitting shoes. Although they’ve figured out the difference between empathy and sympathy. Unlike many American adults. Part of their insight relates to self-respect. If they love themselves, that allows them to love others. Self-loathing leads to resentment of others. Which also seems obvious to me.

Tragically, I suspect that this also seems obvious to the Democratic Party. And I suspect their stated desire to emphasize tolerance over “love thy neighbor” is an intentional effort to destroy western civilization. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m becoming more and more certain that I’m right. Because if I was trying to destroy western civilization, that is what I would do.

Teach people to hate their history and hate themselves. Then they will naturally hate their neighbor, despite their efforts to tolerate him, and society will tear itself apart. You won’t have to destroy it from the outside — they’ll do it themselves on your behalf. And they’ll feel virtuous in the process.

Sympathy is often destructive. Empathy is always beautiful.

That’s not right or wrong — that’s just the way it is.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. He did not tell us to tolerate our neighbor. Empathy exaggerates what we have in common. Tolerance exaggerates our differences. Those who preach tolerance are exaggerating the divisions in our society to the point that we will no longer be able to live together. Regardless of their intentions, those who preach tolerance are sowing conflict. Conflict which cannot be resolved.

Which would normally be very upsetting to me. Except that this year’s batch of gingerbread is unusually good. Perhaps I’ll have just one more cookie. That giraffe with the broken leg — no one will notice.

I’m so, so thankful for my daughters.

All four of them. Even if one of them looks a bit different. We don’t care. We love her, and she loves us. And that’s good enough for us. We don’t need a government program to teach us to tolerate one another. We’re way past that already.

And the left fears such things.

Because such things destroy Critical Race Theory and other forms of tolerance that directly challenge “love thy neighbor.” If neighbors love each other, they have no use for tolerance.

And no use for progressives.

And that just won’t do. So they start teaching about divisions and tolerance in kindergarten. And they hope that kids like Linda and Lisa don’t eventually recognize that even though they have different problems, that our problems are really very similar, and that we have a lot more in common than we might think at first. Thinking like that is toxic to the left.

Imagine being a member of a political movement for which empathy is destructive.

That would give its supporters pause, I would think. Surely that creates some inner conflict for them, right?

Perhaps.

But even after exploring the importance of empathy, I find it difficult to empathize with their inner conflict, for some reason.

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  1. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Beautiful, Doc. It is very difficult to feel empathy for someone that returns nothing but hate and destruction. Somehow we have to find the other side.

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Dr. Bastiat: Those who preach tolerance are exaggerating the divisions in our society to the point that we will no longer be able to live together.  Regardless of their intentions, those who preach tolerance are sowing conflict.  Conflict which cannot be resolved. 

    I do not believe it was ever thus.  The word “tolerance,” when I was growing up meant that we recognized the shared humanity of those who were different from us and–while we did not accept their worldview or sometimes, their actions, we did not take steps to crush them for their beliefs or what they were.   We tolerated them.  Live and let live.

    The Left has (imagine my surprise) revised the meaning of the word tolerance to suit themselves, and now, as commonly used, it means that–no matter our own personal feelings about the worldviews or behavior of those who differ from us–we on the Right must bow down and kiss the ring.  There is no room, in this brave new “tolerant” world for simply letting others be themselves without our active endorsement of their behavior.  If we don’t vociferously and repeatedly signal our approbation of behavior the Left approves of, they will destroy us.  Because we’re “intolerant.”  It’s not enough to “live and let live,” either for us or for them.

    This is a one-way dynamic only.  There is no compulsion, on the part of the Left to “tolerate” beliefs espoused by those of us on the Right.  It’s the old story: We think they are wrong; they think we are evil.

    I was quite happy with the old definition of “tolerant,” which I think had room within it for the sort of empathy this post describes.  I wish we could get it back.

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    She (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: Those who preach tolerance are exaggerating the divisions in our society to the point that we will no longer be able to live together. Regardless of their intentions, those who preach tolerance are sowing conflict. Conflict which cannot be resolved.

    I do not believe it was ever thus. The word “tolerance,” when I was growing up meant that we recognized the shared humanity of those who were different from us and–while we did not accept their worldview or sometimes, their actions, we did not take steps to crush them for their beliefs or what they were. We tolerated them. Live and let live.

    The Left has (imagine my surprise) revised the meaning of the word tolerance to suit themselves, and now, as commonly used, it means that–no matter our own personal feelings about the worldviews or behavior of those who differ from us–we on the Right must bow down and kiss the ring. There is no room, in this brave new “tolerant” world for simply letting others be themselves without our active endorsement of their behavior. If we don’t vociferously and repeatedly signal our approbation of behavior the Left approves of, they will destroy us. Because we’re “intolerant.” It’s not enough to “live and let live,” either for us or for them.

    This is a one-way dynamic only. There is no compulsion, on the part of the Left to “tolerate” beliefs espoused by those of us on the Right. It’s the old story: We think they are wrong; they think we are evil.

    I was quite happy with the old definition of “tolerant,” which I think had room within it for the sort of empathy this post describes. I wish we could get it back.

    Yes. The Left has re-defined tolerance to mean endorsement. We must now not just accept, we must promote.

    • #3
  4. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Great Post.

    The Left’s lack of empathy is cleared visible  in the fact that they have destroyed so many lives with a hint of empathy  for those they have hurt and without any remorse for the destruction that have wreaked on society.  They seem to never accept any responsibility for the huge damage to people’s lives they cause.

    • #4
  5. Malka Davis Inactive
    Malka Davis
    @Malkadavis

    We only tolerate the things we hate. As per usual, the Left sets the bar pretty low.

    • #5
  6. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Beautiful post, beautiful family. Thanks, Doc.

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    Yes. The Left has re-defined tolerance to mean endorsement. We must now not just accept, we must promote.

    It is not even new. I was told that quite explicitly by a leftist, maybe twenty years ago,  when I talked about tolerance of homosexuality. Tolerance was definitely not good enough. 

    We’ve come a long way since the days of liberalism. 

    • #7
  8. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    We’ve come a long way since the days of liberalism. 

    Yes. Unfortunately, the direction has been downward.

    • #8
  9. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    What adorable women you are surrounded by, Doc! Well done—you’ve made the world a better place in so many ways, but especially by being their Dad.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Great post!

     

    • #10
  11. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Faith, family, and friends, Make room for them in your life, and more friends will come. The rest of it is just background noise.

    • #11
  12. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    • #12
  13. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago.  We’ve got 5 of them.  That was a great day.  I learned how to make a merengue!

    • #13
  14. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I forget the exact association, but in the company of a girl I once knew, either she said or we saw (and at any rate, we discussed) a phrase “Love me, Hate, Just don’t Tolerate me”, and it made sense.  Toleration is what you do despite your loathing.  It is nothing like acceptance, friendship, or loving your neighbor.

    Words have meanings.

    • #14
  15. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    I’ve heard it’s very good. I’m hardly able to cook at all and not terribly interested in cooking shows but I really like watching Rory O’Connell’s show , it’s the opposite of the rest of the cooking programmes on now. He does everything slowly and he uses really nice china and crockery. None of this half hour hero/5 minute challenge bull on square plates.

    • #15
  16. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Show Off!

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    • #17
  18. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I still think Dr. Bastiat should be a bigamist. Also, I suspect that it would be ethical to clone him. He is however misinformed about the unity of humanity. 

    You can have empathy for someone that is not exactly like you. In fact, that’s the best type of empathy. Because then, at that point, you realize that we’re all essentially the same, and we’re all doing the best we can

    I’m listening to a True Crime podcast about murders. People are most certainly not all the same. 

    • #18
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    I still think Dr. Bastiat should be a bigamist.

    No thank you – I’ve got enough problems.

     

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Also, I suspect that it would be ethical to clone him.

    No thank you – the world has enough problems. 

     

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    He is however misinformed about the unity of humanity. 

    You can have empathy for someone that is not exactly like you. In fact, that’s the best type of empathy. Because then, at that point, you realize that we’re all essentially the same, and we’re all doing the best we can

    I’m listening to a True Crime podcast about murders. People are most certainly not all the same. 

    You make a valid point, here.  There will be outliers.  But in general, I think we’re better off emphasizing that which connects us rather than that which divides us.

    But your point is well taken.  This won’t work for everyone.  But it will work for most, I think.

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    • #21
  22. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    This guy votes.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    That’s Chef Baldi.  His motto was: Never wear polyester when cooking; it sticks like napalm.

    • #23
  24. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    That’s Chef Baldi. His motto was: Never wear polyester when cooking; it sticks like napalm.

    I bet he used to be called Chef Hairy.

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    Actually, they wouldn’t let us touch the stove or ovens . . .

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    Let me guess . . . the idiot used gasoline?

    • #26
  27. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Stad (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Who owns the Ballymaloe cookery school apron?

    We did a one day cooking school there on a family trip to Ireland a few years ago. We’ve got 5 of them. That was a great day. I learned how to make a merengue!

    In our cooking class, we learned how to drink and handle sharp knives at the same time . . .

    Did you get to play with fire?

    Let me guess . . . the idiot used gasoline?

    That doesn’t look like gasoline.  Gasoline would have been even more exciting.  Looks like a steam explosion from water getting under the hot coals.

    • #27