Monday, October 6, 2008


Incidents that celebrate the spirit of humanism often escape our scrutiny. On 2 October, the local newspapers highlighted the exemplary empathy shown by the Muslim community of Jodhpur in response to the tragedy where many died in a stampede at a temple on 30 Sept. Besides, ferrying the injured to the hospital in their auto rickshaws and taxis, entirely on a voluntary basis, the Muslims queued up for blood donations and "offered water to those coming from cremation grounds after performing the last rites of their loved ones."

Jodhpur's Muslim community chose to scale down Eid celebrations. The move was in response to the human tragedy that affected their city brethren. While, such empathy may be a natural response, we cannot ignore the significant lessons emanating from Jodhpur. It not only challenges the blatant stereotyping of Muslims, but also shows that bonds of love can transcend every wall of hatred.

15 years ago, on the same date: 30 Sept, a deadly earthquake devastated lives and homes in Latur and Osmanabad. Many were engulfed by the emotion of pity for the grief of the affected. Some showed their sympathy by collecting and dispatching money and materials. And there were yet others who chose to scale down Diwali celebrations like they would have if the tragedy to visit one of their own family members.

We easily feel pity for the pain of others. Sometimes we stretch our words and actions to show sympathy. But it is the emotion of empathy that puts us in the other person’s shoes and adds greater meaning and purpose to our reaction. Thus we transform ourselves into responsive and responsible human beings.

In the wake of human pain, it is natural to feel pity and show sympathy…
But to BE BETTER as human beings, let’s embrace the response of empathy…


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