Forum Topic Details for January 14

For the Forum program for 2nd Sunday we will discuss the theme for the month: Empathy

“If you light a lamp for someone, it will brighten your own path.” - The Buddha

“Empathy and the extensive sociability it makes possible helped early bands of hairless, clawless, small-toothed hominids become the dominant mammalian species on Earth. Now that we’ve reached a population of approximately seven billion souls with wildly differing notions of what’s true and what’s important, empathy has become a crucial element in helping us learn how to live with one another. Empathy is what made us a successful species in the first place, and now, empathy is what will help us address our many conflicts so that we can survive and flourish.”

Karla McLaren, The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill

Questions for reflection:

  • What is empathy?
  • How is empathy different from sympathy?
  • What does empathy ask of us?
  • What gets in the way of the ability to empathize?
  • How might we expand our capacity for empathy?
  • Why is the capacity for empathy important to living a full life?
  • How can we show empathy for others through our actions?

Nonfiction Resources

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by
Karen Armstrong, Chapter 4 “The Fourth Step: Empathy”

Fiction Resources

“Glossolalia,” a short story by David Jauss

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen