Opinions are Easier than Empathy

In the wake of the ‪#‎UCCshooting‬, I found myself strangely closed off to both empathy and opinions about the shooting and the victims. I was detached. Clinical even.

Maybe it hit a little too close to home: I live about 90 miles south of Roseburg, and my entire family is attending either a community college or a small state university in a very similar setting.

Perhaps I just didn't want to, you know... go there in my mind.

Anyway, it's clearly a highly charged event. Opinions abound about how it could have been prevented, or why it happened in the first place. My FB feed has been blowing up with it.

People were beginning to sound off politically even before the death count was confirmed.

But it dawned on me this morning as I was pondering this lack of emotion in myself. The reason opinions are so easy is that it gives us an excuse to "feel" a strong emotion - usually anger or outrage, instead of empathy: really feeling someone else's pain.

Empathy is hard. And valuable.

Opinions are easy. But they ain't worth $#@%.

Where there is significant pain and suffering, whether it's individual or collective, close to home or far away (‪#‎UCC‬ or the Euro refugee crisis), I'd like to live in a culture where opinions matter a whole lot less than empathy.

Let's keep our opinions tucked away - at least for a bit. The Roseburg community will not be better off today or tomorrow because of brilliant opinions, and neither will the rest of us.

Instead, take a few concentrated moments and put yourself in the shoes of the grieving fathers and mothers, the devestated friends, the classmates who will struggle with survivor's guilt, the first responders who stared at bloody hands and clothes when they got off "work."

Having strong opinions may make us feeling better about a tragedy - because we've felt something strong. But they do so little good.

Let's walk for a bit in someone else's shoes.

Our opinions, perhaps changed, will be there when we get back.

#tragedy #empathy #massshooting #politicizing

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