Empathetic Evisceration: For the Greater Good

I really have to call into question the whether there are levels of empathy. Can you be both empathetic and not empathic at the same time?

Allow me to give some context. I have a close friend who was recently dumped by her boyfriend of five months. I dislike this man for multiple, some would say very valid, reasons. So when I discovered that he had broken up with her, I felt somewhat…happy, elated, severely satisfied.

Basically, I was dancing with jazz hands in my head.

And I don’t feel like that makes me a bad friend. I think it makes me a good friend, that I was reveling in her pain.

Not her in pain. The cause of her pain.

And that brings me to my point: is it possible to be sincerely empathetic while also feeling satisfaction about the thing that created a person’s distress? Is that comparable to, let’s say, being happy that someone is sick because it kept them from doing something that would get them hurt?

Or are both of those things horrible and retroactively irrelevant because the “greater good” is an inconsiderate concept with the faintest taste of self-serving malice?

Is feeling no satisfaction in either side of a symbiotically complicated equation the only way to have an emotional reaction that isn’t morally bankrupt? Is lying about it to create a kind of pseudo-empathy to avoid out-kicking your coverage worse, or does honesty still go a long way, here?

Incidentally, I think honesty is very rarely the best policy, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Also, thinking about marriage at nineteen is insane.

I think I have the moral high ground, here.

I may not be very good at this friendship thing.

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