I can’t even describe how painful it is. I have a powerful case of thempathy. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. It’s a rare condition and most sufferers don’t like to talk about it.
Okay. Thempathy is like this:
You have powerful feelings, hateful feeling toward yourself that originate with people who see you as “the other,” as “them.” It’s like you are standing outside yourself, in the mind of an intensely loyal group member from a group that hates you.
It’s like you are a Jew experiencing the emotional reaction of a Nazi towards you. Or that you are a black man experiencing the feelings of a racist as he sees you. You are filled with anger, fear, loathing and a compulsion to commit violence—toward yourself.
And then it passes. When it does, I find myself wondering who it is around me who has those horrible hateful feelings. What I find most upsetting, however, is that I find myself feeling just a bit sorry for my adversary, for whoever’s loathsomeness had temporarily taken over my consciousness.
But now I’m standing here in Silwan, looking this Palestinian guy right in the eye. He hates me. I’m an Israeli Jew and, in his mind, I occupy his country, oppress his people and trample on his dignity. I rain death from the skies and plant bloody boots on his soil. At least that’s what I know from being inside his head.
Frankly, I’m not feeling too good about him, either. His people plant bombs, use children to deliver death, make even a casual visit to a cafe a potentially deadly event. He he sympathizes with, even supports, these inhuman crimes.
So, we’re eye-to-eye. He’s feeling what I normally feel and I’m feeling what he normally feels. Then, it happens. We embrace, crying inconsolably.