Some years back I came across a woman who had lost her husband quite early on in life. Her children were still young at the time of her husband’s death and she had to face considerable difficulty in bringing them up by herself.
One would expect such a person to be more understanding about the plight of those placed in similar situations, right? Not she. Each time a story of a struggling widowed mother was told in her hearing she was dismissive about it and stated disdainfully, “I have no sympathy for such as them!”
The first time I heard it (and all the subsequent times too) it shocked and saddened me. Here I was, someone who had not even faced such a calamity, but who could still empathize with, and appreciate the efforts of the widowed mothers struggling to bring up their children, also willing to extend help, while she who knew what it meant to not have any such help, was being so heartless.
By and and by as I moved on in life, I realized, the fact that one had suffered in life did not automatically translate to empathy for the the plight of others similarly placed. At the same time, being lucky in life did not mean lack of empathy, contrary to the impressions of the general public.
©Shail Mohan 2015