the downside to (complete) empathy

the downside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
a rational observer
who doesn’t get involved
in others’ affairs.
if a friend vents about a horrible day
& you rage with her —
the burden rolls off her shoulders
& onto to yours.
there is nothing cathartic
about reading a tragic novel —
your eyes swell shut from bawling
because of the characters’ misfortunes.
you give up watching the news
because seeing widespread injustice
depletes (what little) hope for humanity
you have left.
the upside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
an oblivious bystander
who can’t be bothered
to help someone else.

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4 thoughts on “the downside to (complete) empathy

  1. Oh, I love this, Samantha, and I can relate to it very well. For extremely empathetic people, it is incredibly difficult to witness all the suffering in this world, but it is our caring that makes us want to change things for the better. A lovely poem.

    Like

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