Journal of Inspirations

Empathy, culture, and légitimité

Edith Stein’s work on empathy is complex and rigorous; however, one ray of common-man light shines forth. This is that we come to know ourselves in great part through empathy with others. Part of our self-knowledge is primordially interior, but part is empathic. We see ourselves, but also see ourselves through the eyes of others. At times others see us differently than we know ourselves to be, but at times others know us better than we know ourselves.

I see this as covering an expansive terrain. This light reflects so far as to inform my understanding of culture and society. It leads me to a conclusion that what others do in society truly effects me in a profound way. Sin is never private, and the “personal” choices others make impact me empathically so deeply as to inform me of who I am. They soak into me. To tell me that I should not judge the lifestyle of another, that I should simply make my own choices differently if I believe so, to “live and let live,” is not only insufficient but harmful. What we decide has an impact on all of us.

This is why I reject not only the cultural and political Left but the Libertarian Right as well. The Left forces upon us a personally harmful and distorted society, while the Right, no matter how much they protest the opposite side’s society, ensures the latter’s success through their own libertarianism.

This is one of the fundamental reasons I am a Monarchist. As individuals who come to know ourselves through both primordial and empathic means in the Steinian sense, we require as a correlate both individual freedom and a healthy reflective society based on truth, beauty, and goodness. We must be free (primordial) but at the same time embrace healthy “foreign others” and role models (empathic).

For these reasons I reject both the Republican left and Republican right. They are two sides to the same coin, each feeding off of the other in a spiritually carcinogenic fashion. What is required is a society grounded neither in Left nor Right but in Truth. This is the essence of Légitimité and the Légitimiste Monarchy.

This healthy, life-giving embrace of both our primordial selves and the empathic “other” is expressed profoundly and with great clarity in the following gospel story.

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s