So this image has been going around various Pagan websites/facebook pages. There’s a big thing amongs Pagans that despite the fact that we do practice religions and are religious…that religion is still a “bad thing” and that spirituality and empathy are the higher/better things.
The problem is, when you get right down to it…empathy is a horrible way to determine morality. That’s why, weirdly enough, we develop our morality from our religions, rather than our empathy.
See, empathy is being able to understand and relate to your fellow human beings. On the surface, this is a good thing, because it allows humans to form emotional attachments to each other. But these emotional attachments can also lead us to do horrible things to other human beings.
And there’s the issue of there’s issues of morality that have little to do with empathy. Theft is a wonderful example of this. Many a thief can or will have a very sad story for why the steal something. If we were to base our morality on empathy, we would feel sorry for the thief an allow him on his way, feeling that he has less than the person he stole from, therefore needs it more than the original owner.
Let’s take murder, should we allow our empathy for either the victim or the killer to sway us in what is right and noble, much less what is legal and just? Is the killing of a person we find hateful supposed to be more acceptable because we can like their killer, and connect with them empathically, better than the person killed?
Morality has to come from something higher than mere, base empathy. Empathy can be toyed with, played with, shaped my fair words and foul thoughts. It was empathy, not divine morality, that led to people forming lynch mobs. Go watch To Kill A Mockingbird. The entire verdict was based was based on empathy for the victim…regardless of the law or innocence of the accused. Or take a more recent event with Rolling Stone and their false rape story. Everyone was so empathicly pulled by the victims story, that they pretty much disbanded an entire student organization and treated its members as if they were all rapists…despite the fact that the minimum of fact checking revealed that the “Victim” lied about the entire thing.
Empathy violated every essence of what good morality should be. It made victims of the innocence, and made someone guilty of lies and malice into the victim people were to feel sorry for, to empathize with. Empathy made evil into good, and good into evil.
Law, morality, these things were drawn from religion, they were taught to us by the Gods, because the Gods know things deeper than we do, they understand the cost of allowing emotions to rule, rather than reason or righteousness. Because sometimes doing the right thing violates empathy, if violates taking into other people’s feelings, because somethings are wrong no matter how people feel about them. Sometimes doing the right thing means hurting people, because if you don’t even more people will be hurt.