The Absence of Empathy
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The Absence of Empathy

We think some people are not nice.  Others we think of as being bad.  Then there are those we think are evil.  I’m not sure I have ever met someone I would classify as evil.  However, I realized I had never really defined evil.  Just what is it that makes someone evil?  Being rude is being not nice.  Telling lies about others is bad.  Somehow I think of evil as actually inflicting physical harm on another.  But that isn’t what the dictionary says.  My dictionary defines evil as being immoral. That certainly broadens the scope.  I finally came up with my own definition.  I think evil is the absence of empathy.  One becomes so self-absorbed there is no time to consider how another feels. We just don’t care about anyone but the person we see in the mirror.  When we say “How are you?” we really don’t care.  It is a prelude to give us an opportunity to tell others how we are.  Hurry and say “Fine” so I can tell you about me.

It is very difficult to think of ourselves as evil. We define ourselves with softer adjectives.  When we are children we are imps or rascals.   It seems harsh to describe a five-year-old as evil.   Yet the seeds of self, if left to grow, will produce self-absorbed adolescents and it will continue to worsen without intervention.   Thankfully evil does not place us beyond God’s desire to change our hearts and help us care about others.  “He is able to keep us from falling and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”  Jude 24   It fills Him and us with “exceeding joy” to do so.

Written by Roger Bothwell on May 17, 2011

Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574

Rogerbothwell.org