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.