The ability to put oneself in another's shoes.
Not everyone is born with it. Some people have to be taught to empathize, others learn it throughout their lives by experience, maturity and even by their religious upbringing.
Having empathy enables us to learn to avoid certain potentially aggressive situations. ie: how would you feel if someone did that to you or to your child? (On the other hand, showing ones empathy for others may spark aggression from those who have never experienced the emotion. Perhaps their moms never held them for some reason. Yesterday, Lush Bimbo told his heartless listeners to condemn those who condemn the war. His heartless minions were sent out to hurt those who hurt for the families of the victims.)
Empathy is good. Too much empathy is not good. No empathy is a really bad thing. It's not human. As in all things, moderation is key.
My first emotion upon seeing the photo's of the 2 young men who were tortured and beheaded by evil people in Iraq was one of empathy for the families of these victims. I felt their pain immediately. Perhaps, being a mom of a young man who is around the same age made it really hit home. Our children are OUR children always no matter how old they are. Looking back at when I was that age, I have to admit that although I thought I was such a grow up in my 20's, I was just a kid too. You live and learn a lot over half a century on earth. Perhaps knowing that some of my son's childhood playmates are or were in Iraq is what brought on the pain yesterday. It was real pain. I wrote from my heart when I condemned those who put our youth into such a terrible situation where they are subject to such heinous acts and furthermore, taught to inflict such pain on others as well. Have you ever looked into the eyes of parents of convicted killers?
When a mother holds her baby in her arms, she wants no harm to come to her angel. Ever. The mother's of the terrorists surely felt the same way when they held their babies. The mother's of the soldiers who tortured inmates in Abu Ghraib would never have wished that their precious angels would grow up to inflict pain on others. Mother's don't have babies only to wish they'd grow up and become killing machines and risk being killed. Even if you are part of a military family, the mother certainly doesn't want their child to have to face war. You want your kids to live long, non violent lives. How can your heart not cry out when you see pictures like this? Would you ever in a million years want to be the parent of the these babies or the ones who killed them?
How can we believe there is a god when our children must endure the results of nothing but greed on the part of world leaders?
As you grow older you begin to see the puppet strings leading right up to the puppeteers. God sure as hell isn't the puppeteer. That's where righteous indignation comes in. You don't need talking points to tell you how to feel once the truth is revealed to you. Only the truly heartless, who never learned compassion or empathy, need to rely on talking points and they are merely pretending to feel anything.
You don't have to be a parent to feel empathy. I was empathetic before I was a parent. There is something about war that makes parents feel so very betrayed. To those parents who have children in the service, I also empathize with you. You most certainly do not want to think for one minute that it was all in vain. I understand. God bless you.