How's Your Em-?
This blogs all about en-ing so why em-ing?
Em-ings rarer than en-ing. It is. According to Quizlet, there are 1436 words beginning with en- and there are 615 words with em-. I'm talking specifically about empathy.
Those numbers are a kind of metaphor because it's easier to encourage than it is to empathise. It's easier to en- than it is to em-!
Look, we talk so much about "needing" empathy as if empathy is a rare commodity that's hard to buy.
Why tell ourselves to be more empathetic? To work on my empathic response? Is it in short supply? Maybe, there's an empathy scarcity in our culture (oh and let's throw in compassion).
It's almost assumed in our close relationships e.g. as parents, as partners and as friends that love exists. We don't usually urge our partner's or parents or even our friends to love each other more.
Do you love your children, partners or friends (or cat)? Surely, by nature of having that role you do love them. It's a role expectation. What of our neighbours or people in our community?
We emphasise empathy and compassion. Take, for instance, random acts of kindness. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation's introductory page says, "We come to work live every day working to make kindness effortless and have selfless acts be the norm." Seriously, "working" lol; my point precisely it takes work. It isn't natural, it isn't second nature and it isn't everyone's first choice.
Let's speculate about other cultures. In Southern Africa, where they have a social ethic called Ubuntu.
Nelson Mandela (RIP 100th anniversary of his born day this year) uses a story to get to the essence of it:
“A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu . . ."
I believe we're all part of a human family, and to treat anyone as if there were less than human, no matter what they've done is to deny them our compassion and empathy.
What about other cultures' em-?