For Empathy Day on 10th June I made a short video for NI Libraries that (spoiler alert) discovered how reading fiction can help us learn this amazing skill.
Incredible to think that when we say “I feel your pain” we might just be telling the truth. Neuroscience has shown that pain response areas light up in our brains when we see someone else suffer. This is probably why we flinch if we’re innocently holding up a picture for someone to attach to the wall and then catch sight of that inevitable thump of hammer onto thumb. It’s not your thumb but for a small moment it feels like it. And a general rule of thumb (see what I did there?) in this scenario is that the victim is the only one allowed to swear profusely.
Empathy is a marvellous thing and surely offers great hope for the future of our social species. I hereby promise to walk in other shoes and reserve judgements. Happy Empathy Day everyone.