I have been pondering a question today and I wanted to put it out to all of you: Can you truly understand someone who doesn’t believe what you believe if you’ve never shared that belief? Can you even if you have shared that belief?
I ask this because of the difference between empathy and sympathy. If, say, someone loses a parent, and you have also lost a parent, you can empathize with them. You’ve gone through what they’re going through. You have a common understanding as a result. But if you’ve never lost a parent you can’t empathize with them. You can sympathize, but you can’t empathize. Sympathy is to feel bad for them or their situation, or you can offer some level of emotional support. So, if you can sympathize, if you know that what happened is bad but you’ve never dealt with it, can you truly understand what the person is going though? Can sympathy create understanding?