Refugee situation compels us to dig deep: What Is Empathy?

At a time when we feel so much pain and confusion in the midst of this global crisis, many people, myself included, have far too many complex things going through their minds for empathy to occur.

Empathy goes beyond sympathy, which is seeing someone’s distress and realizing they are suffering. Empathy is using imagination to experience suffering as if it were your own.

Even if we lack imagination, humans are wired with the emotional intelligence to experience empathy. Brain scans and MRI studies show that a specific area of the brain is linked to empathy. When shown images of someone else’s suffering, participants’ brains switched on parts related to the compulsion that relieves suffering.

Kathy Hostetter