Are you Pity, Sympathy, or Empathy?

 In blog, drowning, empathy, foster children, orphan, pity, rescued, sympathy, woods
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

A friend of mine, Pastor Rich George, shared this short story with me this weekend in Buffalo, NY after I had just finished talking with the church staff about suffering and the church’s response to suffering.

I want to pass it along to you.

I think it has a LOT to do with where we are as a people trying to make a difference in the lives of 153+ million orphans, especially through the church.

Story of Pity, Sympathy & Empathy
Pity, walking in the woods, hears cries for help
and comes upon a person drowning in a pond.
Pity, feels sorry for the person and says to himself,
“Someone should do something!” Pity continues
on his journey doing nothing.
Sympathy, a little while later is also walking in the
woods and hears the same cries for help and
comes upon the same person drowning in the same pond.
Sympathy feels just awful about this terrible tragedy,
and cannot bear the thought of it for one more
moment so he jumps into the pond, forgetting
that he can’t swim and drowns.
Empathy, hearing the cries of a person in the woods,
rushes to discover a person drowning in a pond
and decides to act, considering all his options.
He throws a life preserver with a rope attached to the
endangered and desperate person, and pulls them out.
Pity felt FOR him but feared drowning.
Sympathy felt LIKE him, but was overwhelmed and couldn’t swim.
Empathy felt WITH him and lovingly rescued him from the midst of chaos.


There are a lot of drowning foster children and global orphans in our world.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of barriers in our own lives that keep us from helping those in need.

Which word describes you best? 
Pity | Sympathy | Empathy.

Steve Gillis
Founder | Executive Director
www.patchourplanet.org 
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