Empathy can get us a long way, but it’s not enough on its own. We need to combine empathy with reason.

We need to carefully consider the particular situation and the affects of our choices on the happiness or suffering of the people concerned, and the wider community. We need to do the same when we’re thinking about how we affect other sentient animals as well.

We need to weigh up the evidence, the probable consequences of the action, or of not acting, and the rights and wishes of those involved. That will help us find the kindest course of action, or the option that will do the least harm.

Empathy is choosing to see ourselves in another despite our differences. It’s recognizing that the same humanity – the same desire for meaning, fulfillment and security – exists in each of us, even if it’s expressed uniquely.

Vivek Murthy

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