Empathy seems to be a necessary attribute of being social animals–a connection we automatically (not necessarily accurately) make to be able to “know” others before we even meet them. A gracefulness to balance our natural wariness of strangers. As a way of becoming aware of others’ emotional / experiential state it may be too general or overly stuffed with our own biases.
Reading “Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening” by Andrea S. Cohen and “How We Grieve: Relearning the World” by Thomas Attig and reaching out has become a way more complicated subject for me. The struggle seems to be around the idea of being usefully empathetic rather than dispensing sympathy without asking first what is needed. Like you said Maha, not knowing what what someone needs should make us hesitate to offer help that may be inappropriate. Do we as intelligent humans presume that how WE feel is how THEY feel? Are we that smart?
Thanks for this Maha and the New Yorker article Francis.