Understanding and empathy do not necessarily indicate agreement, congruence, or commiseration, one indicates the comprehension of normally occurring human emotion, the other an enjoining of perspective, sympathetic consideration, consensus. I empathize with an abundance of individuals on a daily basis, perceive their motivations, hopes, wishes, whether I agree or not. We are after all hewn from the same base rock, with similarities on innumerable highly visible and carefully concealed genetically proscribed levels. However commiseration is by its nature reserved for those sharing a level of like mindedness, affinity, intrinsicality even concisely mirroring our own. A case might be made for empathy and understanding being predispositions, whilst commiseration being a choice, shaped by social, cultural, and educative experience and structure. Understanding and empathy are naturally occurring pure and unadulterated reactions, outside of acquired filters, agreement or commiseration involve constant cerebral comparative analysis and can be set aside.
Whilst my conjecture might easily be seen as splitting hairs, there are constantly reoccurring examples of how humanities capacity to control, alter, dispense with congruence and commiseration have resulted in not only the momentary suspension of understanding and empathy but their eventual complete repression and dismissal. Each and every divisive act intended to divide, exclude, separate humankind into sets, groupings, hierarchical levels, however considerate or seemingly positive the purposes might appear have without fail ended in wholesale abuse, mistreatment, callousness, or in the worst examples forced labor, slavery, death, eradication. At some point in time every good idea risks becoming a principle, a regulation, an insistence, a command. Humanity is remarkably stupid for all its supposed intelligence, never seeing the wood for the trees. Every positive notion probably casts a much larger negative shadow beyond easy comprehension.
Anyone who knows me well will acknowledge my affinity with the ‘Doctor’. At the end of his 12th reincarnation he reminds all humanity to be kind, to be kind, and most importantly to be kind.