My Dear Son, I Am Thankful for Your Empathy
Empathy is the building block of morality. Are we nurturing it in our boys?
By Alex Lim
My Dear Son,
What is empathy and why is it important?
When you were very little, about 3 or 4 years old. You watched an episode of Dora the Explorer where she was going to get in trouble for doing something. I can’t remember what. You were afraid for her and hid behind the couch. That’s empathy.
When your sister was being punished by us, you spoke out for her. You risked getting into trouble but tried to help. That’s empathy.
When you gave your hard-earned money to the lady with the homeless sign outside Walmart. I asked you why you did that and you said, “She needed it”. That’s empathy.
Dictionary.com defines empathy as the ability to identify with the feelings of another.
That’s why you hid behind the couch when you were little. And that’s why I cried when I saw the image of a Syrian boy’s body washed up on the beach.
But empathy is more than that.
Empathy is being able to actually feel what the other person is feeling. And then helping. You had it right all along. I love and respect you for that.
There are so many reasons why empathy is important. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
It is literally the building block of morality. What we think is right and wrong. Having a strong sense of empathy helps with everything, work, friendship, marriage … everything.
But that’s not enough… Having empathy and not acting or helping means nothing. Sharing on Facebook and saying I feel sad for them is just not enough.
Thank you, my son, for teaching me this lesson.
This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.