Empathy for Boston

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On Monday, while Boston was experiencing a modern-day massacre, I was brainstorming with my student, a freshman at Pitt, about human identity, the focus of her final paper. She insisted that empathy defines humans and I asked her how humans achieve, practice and maintain empathy.

To support my belief that empathy will end all kinds of bullying, I quoted from my all-time favorite book, Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird": To avoid committing the sin of killing or hurting the innocent -- the mockingbird -- requires crawling into another's skin and standing in his shoes to see things from that person's point of view. That action of empathy results in understanding and acceptance, not judging and brutality.

To the professionals and ordinary folk who rushed to help the victims in Boston -- thank you for your empathy. To the perpetrator(s) of this heinous act -- and all similar acts of senseless horror -- shame on you. Perhaps you need to read "Mockingbird" and start to consider others before embarking upon your course of destruction.




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