Empathy is our birthright. We see it at the earliest age. One year olds, who do not as yet have language, will offer pats and hugs when a loved one cries "ouch" upon stubbing a toe. They will share food and toys with playmates and fetch articles and remove obstacles for adults, even at some cost to themselves!
We should abandon the idea that humans are inherently selfish and only help others after mentally tallying up costs and benefits. The calculation has been made for us. We naturally favor empathy unless we are consumed by fear or rage.
When it comes to couples, once partners are able to let go of their desperate self protection and engage emotionally, they respond to their mate's expression of pain and vulnerability with compassion. This response continually conforms my belief in the basic goodness and generosity of human nature.
The only hope for 'homo sapiens' is to "know itself for what it is." With such knowledge we can build a society that fits with and complements our most human, most humane nature.
As Aristotle said, "What a society honors will be cultivated."
It is time for us to understand, honor, and cultivate the deepest relational elements in our nature. We must build on the social capital that is at the heart of any civilization that merits the same.
Love Sense - Sue Johnson