Here's where I get itchy.
We've got four terms being bandied around here: empathy, sympathy, understanding and compassion. We've got one concern: helping others. We're all agreed: help others. But simply by indulging in the semantic argument about what each of the four terms means, we're creating a hierarchy of help. This term has been elevated over that term, this term is worse than that other term, and this other term becomes yet another term which everyone knows that everyone knows is bad ("Too often, I think intended empathy and/or sympathy can devolve into pity. No alleviation of pain occurs for anyone. ")
The mere fact that we're arguing about what each of four terms means that none of these terms are settled. None of these terms have a commonly-accepted definition, at least as far as their application to mercy. Yet here we are, arguing that one is good and another is bad and we should feel entirely okay for judging someone else on their practice of empathy instead of pity or sympathy instead of understanding or not using enough compassion but practicing too much empathy and
give me a fucking break.
Here's where this started:
I felt the need to write this, because I've been trying to better understand why some behavior that ostensibly aligns with my ideals feels disingenuous to me.
That's mk wondering whether he is morally pure in feeling judgmental over someone doing something he agrees with.
Yes? No? Maybe? I know that this sort of hair-splitting does no one any fucking good, I know that any time a group of people argues whether or not they're allowed to pass judgement over another it better be over deeds not words and I know that he who first argues definitions loses and this is one big fat loser of an argument.
You know what? If you feed the homeless you're doing good. If you restrict access to abortions you're doing bad. Is the good outweighing the bad? Most of the time, probably; I've had to learn an absolute fuckton about abortion in the United States lately for reasons we don't need to get into here and what I can tell you is that the fuckin' day-after pill is rapidly mooting the whole fuckin' discussion. I can also tell you we're talking about the Salvation Army and that I can further tell you I don't give them money because one of those bell-swinging jackholes stood idly by and watched someone steal my fucking bicycle and you're goddamn right I'm painting the whole of an organization for the actions of one dumb shit volunteer in Marina Del Ray and that's neither sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate or understanding and I give no fucks because charity oughtta make me feel good and all I can think whenever I see those assholes and their red pails is the dick who watched my bike ride away.
Don't make charity feel bad. Don't cut up the world so you can judge someone for being charitable. Don't squint your eyes so you can stand in judgment over someone attempting to make the world a better place just so you can question their motives. There's little enough to go around.