The importance of empathy

But empathy isn’t just an ability to personally feel for another person; it’s a powerful tool that can be used to understand a situation, and I believe it has the potential to resolve global conflicts.

I want to preface the rest of this with an important distinction: Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is an understanding of the rationale behind an action; sympathy is a belief that the action is morally correct.

The two sometimes go hand in hand, but in cases where empathy is used to understand the perpetrator of a tragedy, sympathy does not always accompany it.

I’ve formed most of my opinions on empathy from two TED Talks that I watched in school: “A Radical Experiment in Empathy,” by sociologist Sam Richards, and “The Danger of a Single Story,” by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Brian Gentry