When I was a child, comparing the behaviour of two people in my circle was formative. One would turn out to help in any situation, from raking dirt on the local school oval in a working bee to stopping the car late at night to check on an old man hanging over the rail at a city tram stop. He never talked much about these actions, nor dramatised the recipients’ needs, beyond saying, if asked, that it was the ‘right thing to do’. The other person would become so upset by other people’s troubles, and feel their pain so intensely, that she would end up a teary, hand-wringing mess and require calming herself, taking away attention and care from the person in need.
Bystanders and helpers
Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution
by Roman Krznaric
Rider Books, $34.99 pb, 288 pp, 9781846043840
Miriam Cosic is a Sydney-based journalist and critic. She is the author of two books.
By this contributor
- Miriam Cosic reviews 'The Unwomanly Face of War' by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
- Miriam Cosic reviews 'On the Java Ridge' by Jock Serong
- Miriam Cosic reviews 'A Perfidious Distortion of History: The Versailles Peace Treaty and the success of the Nazis' by Jürgen Tampke
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