Virtue of the Week: Empathy

THE STORY OF THE LITTLE MOUSE

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a mouse trap. Retreating to the farmyard the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mouse trap in the house, a mouse trap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.” The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mouse trap in the house, a mouse trap in the house!” “I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers.” The mouse turned to the cow. She said, “You say, Mr. Mouse. A mouse trap? Like I am in grave danger….NOT!” So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mouse trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well and a few days later she passed away. So many people came for her funeral, that the farmer had the cow slaughtered, to provide meat for all of them to eat. So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we all may be at risk. We are all one family!

I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.Mahatma Gandhi

THE PUPPY

A boy went to the pet store to buy a puppy. Four of them were sitting together, priced at $50.00 each. Then there was one sitting alone in a corner. The boy asked if that was from the same litter, if it was for sale, and why it was sitting alone. The store owner replied that it was from the same litter, it was a deformed one, and not for sale. The boy asked what the deformity was. The store owner replied that the puppy was born without a hip socket and had a leg missing. The boy asked, “What will you do with this one?” The reply was it would be put to sleep. The boy asked if he could play with that puppy. The store owner said, “Sure.” The boy picked the puppy up and the puppy licked him on the ear. Instantly the boy decided that was the puppy he wanted to buy. The store owner said “That is not for sale!” The boy insisted. The store owner agreed. The boy pulled out $20.00 from his pocket and told the store owner that he would run home and get the balance of $30.00 from his mother. As he reached the door the store owner shouted after him, “I don’t understand why you would pay full money for this one when you could buy a good one for the same price.” With that the little boy stepped back, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the store owner, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and this puppy will need someone who understands.” With tears in his eyes, the store owner reached down, picked up the little pup, and handed him to the boy.


The Power of Empathy

Here is a little exercise that illustrates how powerful empathy is in our lives.

  1. Name the three wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last three Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last three winners of the Miss America.
  4. Name six people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
  7. Name the last decades worth of Super Bowl winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades , certificates fancy cars, beautiful homes, bank accounts, and facelifts are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. Name three teachers who really helped you on your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name three people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of three people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?


Videos on Empathy: