The agony of wetting the pants....

The agony of wetting the pants….

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The agony of wetting the pants.... In the absence of empathy, relationships remain shallow and even our friends remain strangers like those in a crowded bus.

By Nazarul Islam

The book, “Born for Love,” (Szalavitz and Perry) describes the essence of empathy as “the ability to stand in another’s shoes and feel what it’s like there”. While sympathy is feeling for someone, empathy involves feeling with them and it is the bedrock of close connection.

In the absence of empathy, relationships remain shallow and even our friends remain strangers like those in a crowded bus.

Empathy can be cultivated early on as we learn from this story. A nine-year-old boy in school suddenly found himself in an awkward position; he had wet himself and his pants were soaked. He felt so embarrassed that he wished the earth would open and swallow him right there so that no one could see him in his vulnerable state.

If the boys find out he would be the butt of their jokes till the end of his school days. If the girls find out they will never talk to him ever. To add to his woes, he saw his teacher approaching him. Suddenly his classmate Golab appeared in between him and his teacher carrying a fishbowl filled with water. She tripped in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumped the water on the boy. The boy pretended to be angry with the girl but all the while thanking his stars for this development.

Suddenly his situation changed. Instead of being the object of ridicule, he earned everyone’s sympathy. The other children were on their hands and knees cleaning up around him. Suddenly the girl Golab had become the object of ridicule as it was her fault that she drenched him. The teacher took the boy aside and gave him gym shorts while his pants dried out.

Finally, at the end of the day, when all the students were leaving for home, the boy walked towards Maya and whispered, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” And, Golab whispered back, “I wet my pants once too”.

To quote Barack Obama:

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is the quality of character that can change the world”.

Empathy nurtures wisdom. Apathy cultivates ignorance. For grownups, the message is clear: Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you.

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About the Author

Nazarul IslamThe Bengal-born writer Nazarul Islam is a senior educationist based in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America. He is author of a recently published book ‘Chasing Hope’ – a compilation of his 119 articles.