An illustration of the author wearing a face mask and the text "Black Lives Matter" in a speech bubble

Don’t Condone, Empathize

I think something that confuses a lot of people is that they think empathizing with someone else means to condone that person’s actions or beliefs.

They are not the same thing.

We need more empathy to help us bridge the gap between their beliefs and ours – but just because we understand them doesn’t mean we need to compromise on our own beliefs and values. 

I look around and see so many people who behave incredibly poorly, and I see the pain and frustration and fear that they’re so desperately trying to cover up with anger and hatred and the need to be right. 

I empathize with them a lot and wish those feelings could be washed away with a magic wand.

But at the end of the day if they’re spewing misinformation about the efficacy or safety of mask wearing and vaccines, or if they’re saying vile, hateful things to other people, or even if they’re just using their institutional power to play the role of a minor dictator at the office, they need to be stopped.

Empathy is a useful skill to develop, but don’t let it turn into the need to be a caretaker. Boundaries are healthy, and just because you know why someone is acting in a destructive manner doesn’t mean they should be given free reign or be excused from the consequences.

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