On the scale of human empathy from Empath to Sociopath, no doubt most humans inhabit the mountain in the middle. That is, most people can be caring and sensitive or selfish and conscienceless, as the occasion seems to require. I’ve always known I’m a bit strange and don’t fit snugly into the mountain in the middle on this scale. I now know I’m an Empath.
We all measure others by the Me Yardstick; what other yardstick do we have? So we wonder what’s wrong with those who are meaner, greedier, or stupider than we are. Alternatively we may wonder what’s wrong with those who are more kind, more generous or more deep thinking than we are. We may think they are a bunch of losers.
An example: When I was little, I noticed many worms on the driveway who came out to migrate after a rainy night. I knew they would struggle and die when the sun came out. They were already struggling. They were worms, for Pete sake, but I couldn’t just leave them there. So I spent an hour plucking them up and throwing them into the wet grass. I confess I still do this sixty years later.
When were dissecting worms for science class, I got a big night crawler and practiced. He had a heart; did he have a mouth? Halfway through I was suddenly horrified by what I was doing. I gave it a decent burial, propped up a little headstone, and still feel bad about it. It’s not just worms, of course, I once raised a baby rat because…it was a baby! It was alive! It wanted to stay alive.
If someone is punched in a movie, I feel it like a shadow passing over, so I don’t like those movies. I think people are amazing and they are speaking truth to me. You can imagine how much trouble this can cause in a lifetime, especially when I cross paths with a sociopath, who thinks, “Aha, a loser. What can I extract from her for my benefit?”
One good side effect is that I experience beauty more intensely. I’m an artist and am constantly excited by the beauty in nature, even in a withered leaf. I once attended a performance by the London Symphony and was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t stop crying and had to leave at intermission.
We all exist on many scales; Empath to Sociopath, Introvert to Extrovert, Bright to Dull. If majority rules, then the mountain in the middle is Normal, and those on any end of the spectrum will be considered Odd, Weird, maybe even Crazy. But I say Viva la Difference! How boring would the world be if we were all the same? Let’s share our insights freely to benefit humanity.
But of course I would say that, because I’m an Empath.