Saturday, April 25, 2015


for Jeremy Rifkin

               The Golden Rule depends on empathy
               To feel another’s suffering as your own,
               As if you were a single entity
               And not reliant on yourself alone:

               I feel your pain; I feel your joy as well
               Because somehow I can identify
               With your experience as if a spell
               Bound both of us with power we can’t deny.

               Although the Jungle’s Law would seem to make
               Us enemies dyed red in tooth and claw,
               We can cooperate with give and take
               To rise above that sad primordial flaw.

                    If ever it were time to turn the page,
                    Now is the hour for the Empathic Age.


               A Global Wisdom Culture would entail
               A fundamental shift of attitude
               And resolution to blaze out a trail
               That humankind has never yet pursued.

               The way of conquest and supremacy,
               Of acquisition and of self-defense,
               Instead of following philosophy,
               Has led us far astray from wiser sense—

               A sense of empathy for our own kind,
               An insight into others’ suffering,
               A bond toward which we’re naturally inclined,
               Is what a new civility could bring.

                    A Global Wisdom Culture will arise
                    When we have wholly learned to empathize.


               I feel your pain; I feel your joy as well,
               Which is clear evidence of empathy
               For what transpires with you seems to compel
               An equal, kindred resonance in me.

               Without such kind emotional rapport,
               We’d likely all be predatory foes
               Engaged in endless and uncivil war
               Till Earth’s experiment with life would close.

               Happily it’s otherwise, and we’ve the sense
               To recognize civility depends
               On fellow feeling and the recompense
               Of care with kindliness, from friends to friends.

                    Just as a sonnet ends with coupled rhymes,
                    The resonance of souls bodes happy times.


               The opposite of empathy is not
               Antipathy, but inability
               To feel the pain of someone else’s lot
               Then feel compelled to kindly ministry.

               This attitude seems rooted in denial
               That any sort of pain should be relieved
               But tolerated as a rightful trial
               Or as a punishment justly received.

               “I feel your pain” is where all care begins,
               Which means you must experience your own
               And then another’s, as if you were twins
               Acknowledging that neither is alone.

                    It’s only when two souls identify
                    As one that fellow-feeling can apply.