Measuring sympathy

I have come across a lot of recipes recently where ingredients are measured in cups. This is frustratingly imprecise to someone who has to follow recipes line by line. I bought the measures, only to discover that they deliver a chilli which knocks your socks off. I still don’t know the cup size.

Measurements are part of everyday behaviour. I was disturbed yesterday by someone saying “I haven’t got a lot of sympathy for …” It’s as if we have a cup-board possession with a measure of sympathy. Put differently, only being able to spare a pinch of sympathy indicates the meanness of our disposition and behaviour.

How do we measure sympathy? Sometimes sympathy is measured in tea cups. “Tea and sympathy” never amounts to much and describes a limited attention of a duty call. I suggest that there is a more effective simple formula:

sympathy = knowledge x patience

Sympathy grows as we grow in understanding of the other point of view, the other’s position and all the systems that make their life what it is. Then that sympathy is magnified by the gift of patience. Personally I’ve not got a lot of sympathy for those who say they haven’t got a lot of sympathy for … More fool me.

sympathy Look up sympathy at
1570s, “affinity between certain things,” from M.Fr. sympathie, from L.L. sympathia “community of feeling, sympathy,” from Gk. sympatheia, from sympathes“having a fellow feeling, affected by like feelings,” from syn- “together” + pathos “feeling” (see pathos). In English, almost a magical notion at first; e.g. in reference to medicines that heal wounds when applied to a cloth stained with blood from the wound. Meaning “conformity of feelings” is from 1590s; sense of “fellow feeling” is first attested 1660s. An O.E. loan-translation of sympathy was efensargung.
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