The Death of Empathy

I study human psychology. One of the most remarkable things about the act of murder is the death of empathy required to commit it. The thing that jumps out at me from the #GeorgeFloyd murder video is Derek Chauvin’s cold persistence in the face of the victim’s cries for mercy, for breath, for mama.

Did Chauvin not, at times in his life, cry for mercy, breath, for mama? For to persist in cutting off a man’s air supply for eight minutes when all he had to do was put him in the police car and take him to the station like any other arrest, he must have forgotten.

To understand this death of empathy, I turn to the index drama of the human story, the Cross. We see the death of empathy everywhere in this story. But let’s focus on Pilate, who, for legal, judicial, and humane reasons, initially resisted the idea of crucifying Jesus. Here’s how Pilate subsequently forgot empathy: An idol rose up to eclipse all else.


Pilate told them he found no fault in Jesus. When the people roared back that He’d called Himself the Son of God, Pilate felt his breath stop. That statement aligned with Pilate’s impressions of Jesus–preternatural, holy, innocent. He drew Jesus aside to ask, “Where are you from?”

Intuiting that in messing with Jesus he was messing with God Himself, Pilate tried again to release the Savior. But the mob cried, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar!”

They pulled the Caesar card.

That was Pilate’s idol. His position. It eclipsed all else. The death of Pilate’s empathy was a death by eclipse.

What idol rises up in the hearts of men who kill their fellow men?

What idol rises up in your hearts when you engage in softer acts of inhumanity?

No time like the present to reflect.

This article was written by Jennifer Jill Schwizer and published on her Facebook news feed May 31, 2020.  She is an accomplished author, musician and counselor.  Click on the button below to access her website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *