Empathy and Literature
Sometimes in blogging you just want to send your readers to other good sources. Below I have linked an article about whether empathy can be gained through literature. She gets to an even deeper matter--what's so great about empathy?
Years ago I worked with a woman who taught psychology. She had us take a "test" that was supposed to gauge our level of empathy. Hers was much higher than mine. Later, a good friend was dying of cancer. She couldn't visit, wouldn't visit, the friend because her empathy made it too hard for her. At that point I decided empathy was of much less value to other people than a moral code that said you visited friends with cancer. I loved my friend, but I didn't have empathy for her. I really didn't. I just wanted to visit her and know she was cared for. Ever since, I've sort of scoffed at the idea of empathy being the savior of us all. I'm no longer alone in that conclusion.
Empathy as skill, as communication approach, has more value than empathy as true emotional state. If empathy exists at the linguistic level, it can be helpful.