Empathy and suffering #digped

Before vacation I attended digital pedagogy lab institute (DPLI) in Fredericksburg Virginia. I haven’t been able to write a summary blog post for the experience. It was not at all what I was expecting. I was thrilled to spend a week with Maha Bali and Kate Bowles, so really, I did not enter with any expectations other than to share the space with a couple of my favourite people. Since I was attending the networks track, I did hope to meet some new people and make some new connections/friends.

One of the ah-ha moments that did occur was when we were having a discussion around empathy. I shared that after my cancer diagnosis my empathy level for others significantly expanded. I found that it was my worry about my loved ones that made me sad. I could feel the pain they were in because of my diagnosis. It was heart wrenching.

It was in this discussion that I drew the connection between suffering and empathy. Because I was suffering, I felt increased empathy towards others. To me, this explains the high empathy levels in some of my friends – because I know they are suffering, and that personal suffering translates to increased empathy for others.

I think that is one of my big take aways from my experience at DPLI.

It leaves me with the question, can you be deeply empathetic if you have not had personal suffering?

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