Seth Godin wrote the following on his website:
I know what you should do. Actually, I don’t.
I know what I would do in this situation, but I’m not you.
I know what your customer should do, but I’m not her.
I know (and you know, and we all know) what we would do in a given situation, but that’s not the same thing.
Empathy requires something extremely difficult: accepting the fact that we are not and never will be in the other person’s shoes. There’s no rational, universal course because individuals have different goals, different worldviews and different experiences.
There is one situation where we can know what someone else should do: when a clear moral principle is involved. Here are some examples:
- You should find work that you can do: take a job, start a business, volunteer to help. (For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
- You should refuse to get an abortion. (“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13)
- You should tell others what Jesus Christ has done for you (assuming that you know!). (Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18–20)
- You should not join the military where you can be ordered to murder people or support others who are murdering. (“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13)