At the heart of our friendship was empathy. Empathy is what allows us to cross boundaries, whether between “self’ and “other” or “us” and “them.” Empathy is about understanding how the world looks from another living being’s point of view, imagining how another is feeling, and wanting to alleviate another’s distress or share in his or her joy. Empathy is our greatest resource and the more we can promote a person’s empathy, the more the world will be a compassionate, peaceful and just place.
But what about the boundary we construct between human and nonhuman animals? We are, after all, animals, too. We are conscious beings, so are “they”; we feel pain, so do “they”; we experience emotions, so do “they.” These qualities are what make up sentience.
By Beth Levine