The poor beetle

‘And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.’                                               
[Measure for Measure, 3.1.78-80]

Without empathy we would be unable to understand or relate to anything
outside ourselves, except perhaps to judge our fellow creatures. We would
each be completely alone all of the time, and unable to conceive of any
other possibility.

To feel how others feel, whether they be beetles or giants, and to realize
that others can feel as we do, is surely the greatest gift to humanity, and of
life. To connect with the worlds around us is our freedom and our beauty.
Just as the feeling of being at one with another is to find heaven, to
feel another’s crushing pain is akin to hell. Nobody wishes to face that. But
in place of the giant of yore who could feel the misery of the beetle and act
accordingly, we have created an altogether unfeeling giant – the
corporation, the system, the machine – which without the capability of
caring for anything other than its own business works to destroy our innate
sympathies.

The tools to which we are addicted are working at the expense of everything natural and good in this world, and we are increasingly programmed to conform – creating a superficial unity that is light years away from empathy. Whilst politically acceptable and selected subjects are bandied about passionately (and often ineffectually), other crucial issues are treated with defensive disdain.

Our first responsibility must be to the ‘earthlings’ that share this planet with us. When we ride roughshod over them, we diminish ourselves as well…

Take Physic, Pomp!


[The authors wish to acknowledge that although they may appear to have taken this particular passage from Shakespeare out of context, the playwright often undercut the meaning intended by a character – in this case the unsympathetic Isabella – with another sense in keeping with a deep and humane vision.]

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