Empathy Trumps Love

Love is constantly being shoved down our throats as the most beautiful, chaotic, frustrating, and rewarding emotion to ever exist.

Ugh. Enough already. Despite what Japanimation tells you, love isn’t some all powerful force that helps us overcome any obstacle. It’s a term we invented to describe an abstract concept we feel towards people who we tolerate slightly more than the rest of society.

Constantly spouting “love” has given people the very wrong impression that it’s the most important thing in the world and that your life isn’t fulfilling without it.

This isn’t a cynical rant where I spout “love stinks” because my heart was stomped on so many times and I transformed from a functioning human being into an overly sensitive bitch who believes life isn’t worth living without another person. No, like most other things in life, love is simply one of those things I don’t care about.

Well… That’s not entirely true. I slightly resent love because it eclipses what I consider the most important concept human beings should strive to understand: Empathy.

Empathy is the tool that makes people value the lives of others. It gives people a nearly unending capacity to forgive and understand. It calms your mind when someone rubs you wrong and helps you be rational when emotions threaten to take over.

Why is love always praised for making people act irrational? Yeah, it may sound nice in a poem, but in what way is losing a hold on yourself a positive?

“Oh, love is so beautiful because it makes us do things we never would otherwise!”

Yeah, but 9 times out of 10 those aren’t good things. Having spent so much time around writers, artists, and musicians I have heard countless spiels about all the wonderful things love does for people and how it makes them act crazy.

Am I wrong, or is going crazy bad? It may spice up song lyrics a bit, but irrationality and intense bursts of emotion are negatives. Is it any wonder hormonal teenagers go on crazy stalking sprees, long crying sessions, and suffer severely reduced self-esteem when their life is bereft of a relationship?

Empathy is not something you feel instantly. It requires a conscious effort to look at another being and feel for them. Empathy is love, in a way, except a far more encompassing love that extends to everyone on the planet.

What makes you stop and help a person who’s car broke down on the road? To give money to the veteran begging for money on the street? To aid someone lying on the ground, injured? It certainly isn’t love, you have no connection to those people. You could call it love for the human race, but that’s a bullshit answer. Under our current, common definition love is an intimate notion shared between people who have a personal relationship- not a general feeling you have for all of mankind.

Love will make you seethe with jealousy at the person sleeping with your ex- empathy will help take you outside of the situation and realize that person is just where you were six months ago. Love will make you hopelessly despair when you can’t grab the attention of a certain someone (well, maybe that’s lust, but not always)- empathy will help you realize that people don’t belong to you. Love will inspire a selfishness that demands you protect one person over all others- empathy creates a selflessness that drives you to help every member of the human race.

Bla bla bla, claim I’m knocking relationships, blab la bla, tell me I’m bitter and cynical. I’m not knocking relationships, or marriage, or love. I’m just fucking tired of having love as the be all, end all emotion. I believe empathy is the feeling we should be drilling into people, teaching them to make a real effort to care for everyone on the planet rather than one person.

Crimes of passion are fairly common, but I’ll be god damn stunned to learn of a “crime of empathy.”

To relate this to secular themes, churches often tell of god’s love. Well many who believe in a loving god still believe it’s the kind of entity who condemn people to suffer for eternity, and that life should be spent criticizing the people who will burn forever. Perhaps if we heard a bit more about god’s empathy there would be more of an effort to understand people rather than reject them if they don’t fall under god’s “loved” group.

Then again, is an entity so far “superior” to us even capable of relating to us?


4 thoughts on “Empathy Trumps Love

  1. Welcome to the club. Empathy and contentedness. This is what the world needs more of. Imagine a starving family feeling contented suddenly? Imagine someone in the west feeling empathy for a starving family? Those are just a couple of sticking points. I’m right there with you. We’re way behind schedule on the empathy and contentedness.

  2. Reblogged this on The Humanist Housewife and commented:
    I don’t often re blog posts, but I loved this one so much I thought I’d share it with you all. Well written, and I couldn’t agree more with what the writer says. Hope you all like it as much as I did!

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