Saturday, August 07, 2004

The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy

I sliced my arm open. I had a bet going with Billy that I could knock the metal arm off an aluminum stand with one blow of a sledge hammer. The metal arm went right for my wrist like a boomerang. I won! lol :-) It's a small jagged gash and you can see the tendon. Pretty stupid... <chuckle>

Anyway as soon as it happened my buddies gathered around me and wanted to see it. First thing I did, of course, was try to hide it. "No! I'm fine!" I yelled, with a smile. But Billy of course wanted to see it. So I showed it to them. As I took my left hand off my right wrist, his fiance Kara let out a gasp and then checked herself, saying that she was going to be a nurse and shouldn't be doing that.

Funny thing, I felt fine until that show of sympathy. Then I started getting dizzy and nauseous. I guess it was looking at the large flow of blood, my crunched bone, etc., from Kara's perspective. But then Billy would interject with "that same thing happened to me" or something equally empathetic and I would feel better. It went on like this through the entire flurry of activity. I had to ask Kara to go somewhere and just talk to Billy so I could get a proper perspective of the problem.

I was made to hold my arm up after they bandaged it to staunch the blood. So I just went around waving at people and yelling "I'm stupid! I'm stupid!" That's how I felt. I went up to elder Mike, who had just finished saying that pieces of metal could go flying if we hit the stand too hard, to shake his hand and sheepishly admit my foolishness.

I would say that when I needed help the most, it was sympathy that failed me, not lack of it. The Democrats, the Queens of the Welfare State, are full of that. The Republicans are not. When I need help the most, it is the Republicans that I seek help from. Actually, the Libertarians, but I'm trying to make a dichotomy here. :-)

P.S. I am appointing myself a member of the Royal Order of the Wristbandage for consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk of bodily injury. Also, I award the White Cross to Kathy for decisiveness in the heat of battle, the Bleeding Heart to Kara for sympathy without empathy, and the Bronze Award to Billy for empathy without sympathy.

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