A modern fairytale: Judgement and Empathy

Judgement yearns for Empathy, an intense yearning that makes him feel things in his heart and solar plexus that he doesn’t understand, and because of his lack of understanding, he ignores them, discounts them to nothing.

That’s the trouble with Judgement, he rarely thinks beyond what he knows. He makes decisions based on only his knowledge. That’s the only way he knows to draw conclusions for he has not learnt any other way.

But Empathy, she knows much more and Judgement is curious about how she could know so much and how she got to know so much. Empathy intrigues Judgement to such levels that he begins to secretly follow her to understand more.

He watches Empathy be sensitive to other people’s emotions and situations. It’s as if she feels or shares their feelings. She doesn’t just feel pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, she actually seems to understand their feelings, their thoughts and experience, whether past or present, without taking those feelings on herself.

Judgement hides behind a bush as he watches Empathy’s eyes make an invisible, connected line with the eyes of the woman she speaks with. She rests a hand on someone else’s arm and smiles gently, and forms a tear at the lone child rejected by another in play. Judgement looks at those same children and sees one child not playing with another. It doesn’t matter why – one child simply doesn’t want to play with the other and maybe that lone child needs learn to get on better with others. That’s just the way it is.

Judgement doesn’t understand how Empathy can shed a tear like that or connect with someone in such a way. Then he begins to question himself about whether he’s really seeing what he thinks he’s seeing.

So one day in once upon a time land, Judgement asks Empathy how she can relate to people and situations like she does.

Empathy shrugs a shoulder. ‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘I just do. I can help but not.’

Stupid answer, thought Judgement. ‘You’re so receptive to others, their thoughts and experiences. How do you do that?’

Empathy smiles at Judgement. ‘I don’t arrive at any conclusion or make any deductions,’ she says. ‘It is what it is.’

‘But you have to deduce or make an inference to things,’ says Judgement, dogmatic in his speech.

‘No you don’t,’ says Empathy. ‘It’s about being sensitive to the feelings and thoughts of others and situations without taking on those feelings.’

‘So why did you shed a tear at the boy not being allowed to play with the other boy? He’s allowed to choose who he wants to play with.’

‘You saw that dear little boy too,’ says Empathy. ‘And yes, the other child is entitled to play with whomever he likes. But I saw a boy being rejected. How must he have felt? Sad, alone, wanting to play… many things. And why did the other boy reject him? Fear because he dressed differently?’

Judgement giggles. ‘He did look a little funny in his gaping, red shorts. They looked like pyjamas.’

Empathy feels for Judgement. ‘He was presented with a gift that in time, he will understand and he will know how it feels to be turned away. He will understand what fear can do.’

Judgement can’t deny that, nor can he deny the gift that Empathy brings. He wants Empathy, desires her. And Empathy can sense that. She moves in closer to Judgement.

‘Be aware of as much as you can,’ whispers Empathy. ‘And be aware that the level of awareness changes with each person and situation, and one’s own state of mind.’

Judgement embraces Empathy with all his heart.


All fairytales have a moral and this one is no different: be open and aware to the feelings and possibilities that someone may be experiencing or may be occurring in any situation. Be thankful too for all that you experience, even the perceived mistakes, as they are experiences that will wake you to become more empathetic and conscious of others. That’s part of growing.

So laugh at the confusion and smile through tears, don’t be fearful of what you don’t know or understand, and remind yourself that everything happens for a reason.

Empathy is not a natural skill, it takes time to develop and hone. Sometimes it may help to simply talk to a two-year old to understand life again. Or as Buddha says,

‘To understand everything is to forgive everything.’

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