Gregory Colbert and the Empathy Effect

2 Jul

Today, I found myself questioning whether or not my sense of empathy is a positive or a negative. I am not an emotional person, however I have always prided myself in being able to understand the view points of others. Today, work tested my empathetical advantage, leaving me angry that I cannot always communicate in such a cut and dry manner.

Nothing a cookie shouldn’t be able to fix, I suppose. Or a game of chess. Or an evening with my horse. Or an evening with a heavy bag? Oh, the options.

But, if cookies, or horses, or kickboxing or board games aren’t your cup of tea, try Gregory Colbert’s approach (all of the following from Ashes and Snow):

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Scientific methodologies say that we should not ascribe human emotions to animals. Looking through Colbert’s works, it is impossible to understand how anyone could even suggest that an animal other than ourselves is not able to communicate emotions that are equal to our own.

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And, perhaps, our empathy for one another isn’t as powerful as we would like to think. But, can you say the same about human empathy toward animals? How would your reaction differ if someone kicked your friend compared to if they kicked your dog?

My response to what I would do if someone kicked my faithful Doberman: Do you have bail money?

And my friend? After she dusted herself off, my reaction would be the least of the responsible party’s problems.

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As for my topsy-turvy work induced empathy? They know I have their backs.

Go check-out Colbert’s works. I’m particularly interested in his use of encoustics and plan on approaching this subject at a later time. Perhaps it isn’t chess nor kickboxing that I need, but rather some alone time with my rosin, wax and mortar!

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