Empathic Sensibility

Witoubou Newmai

David Horsager in his bestselling book, The Trust Edge says, “Most conflict occurs because of a lack of clarity in communication”. He adds, “Expect conflict. Learn to deal with it. Anytime there’s more than one person, you’re bound to find conflict. It’s natural. We all have separate backgrounds, different tendencies, and unique perspectives”. In this voluminous book, Horsager also confesses that he doesn’t even agree with those he loves the most, “all of the time”. The author further says, “The old notion rings true that if we are all exactly the same we are not all needed”.

These thoughts of David Horsager are pregnant with many perspectives so that we can deduce many important templates for our today’s conversation which should be ratcheted up for substantive measures. This will reinvigorate our directional campaign, too. Otherwise, we are only continuing to choose the usual pandemonium—hurling jibes driven by random impulses only to end abruptly shortly later without leaving any gain for the society, but only leading into a cul-de-sac.

It goes without saying that a society of many ‘communities’ is also bound to have differences as it is not possible to bring together all of them to create a seamless and integrated platform. The toughness or the lightness in resolving the differences between ‘communities’ will also depend on the degrees of seriousness one perceives the “common goal” of the society. The empathic climate, seriousness, love and the narrow political choice prevailed in the ‘conflict’ of the fake mother and the real mother over a baby that was brought before King Solomon (1 Kings 3: 16-28) can also be considered a subtle and yet a liberating reflection of our today’s situation.    

Press releases and counter press releases which make the common interests or the “common goal” to trail the narrow political choices and temporary conveniences will always pave grounds for the next level of bitterness. In a nutshell, how much one faces difficulties, if one recognizes the importance of the raison d’etre of one’s society and its campaigns, empathy will prevail to subdue differences within the given society. Otherwise the trend will continue to be very much a reminiscence of the scene of what Shakespeare’s Macbeth says, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

When we mention the term empathy, we are reminded of Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Empathic Civilization. Rifkin says that one empathizes with another person who shares one’s same vulnerable situation, fragilities or frailties. According to him, “empathy is the ability to actually feel another’s struggle, and the desire to show compassion and solidarity”.

In some societies, even though empathic sensibility is allowed to prevail, there are also other interests to neutralize it. The European Union (EU) situation seems to fit the cited case.  

There are some commentaries which say that the European Union (EU) could have done much better than what it is today. The EU failed to explore its maximum potentials it has to its advantage. One gets this sense when one goes through certain commentaries. Let us cite the EU situation of the 1990s.

Canadian thinker Will Kymlicka in Democracy’s Edges (1999), the book jointly edited by Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon, commented that “there is very little demand for a strengthened EU Parliament.” He further stated that most people on the contrary, “in virtually all European states, show little interest in the affairs of the European Parliament, and little enthusiasm for increasing its powers”. According to Kymlicka, what they wanted, instead, “is to strengthen the accountability of their national governments for how these governments act at the intergovernmental Council of Ministers…that is, citizens of each country want to debate amongst themselves, in their vernacular, what the position of their government should be on European Union issues”.

Coming to the Naga situation, each and every “Naga tribe” shares the same vulnerable situation. Given this scenario, if one “Naga tribe” has difficulties in displaying empathic sensibility for another fellow "Naga tribe", possibly it can be because one has made the “common interest” to trail the narrow political choices and temporary conveniences.