I think the word empathy has many possible opposites.
Among them: Certainty.
- Certainty that you know what’s best for someone when you do not live in their shoes.
- Certainty that pities or disdains someone with a different point of view.
- Certainty that responds to someone else’s suffering with a platitude that does nothing to patch the pain.
The empathetic exercise of trying on someone else’s experience, attempting to feel from the same place they feel, is a creative act (one we need more of in this world). And if I’m so certain, so cemented into my own position, I’m less able to do it.
I feel certain about this right now. Uncertain how to resolve that. Hitting publish.