By Roberto Torres Collazo
They say that he was born from a rape. His father, Cronos, the god of the gods, had transformed himself into a horse to pursue a woman he raped.
The son, a product of that violation was born and they called Chiron half man and half horse.
His mother rejects him immediately because he is horrible and the product of evil and suffering. With the help of the god Apollo, he cultivates his human side, noble and intelligent.
He becomes a specialist in herbal medicine, astrology, and archery. He becomes so famous that the kings hire him to tutor their sons and daughters. But one day Chiron suffers an accident when a poisoned arrow accidentally wounds him in his knee. Since he is a son of a god, he cannot die, he can only suffer.
He is infected with his wound, his mobility and depends on everything on his daughter. The arrow hit him in the animal part, of which he is ashamed and strives to forget since it reminds him all the time of the painful rejection of his mother. This great physical limitation prevents him from being a teacher of kings; he can only help the poor and the sick, a task he performs with great skill. As much as he tries to alleviate his own pain, he cannot. But thanks to his knowledge, sensibility, and ability to experience empathy acquired through pain, he manages to alleviate the suffering of others. He becomes the wounded healer.
One day Chiron discovers that his immortality will end when he renounces his immortality. You must renounce the last of your privileges. He does so and descends to the underworld, where he stays for nine days. Jupiter makes him ascend to heaven, making it part of the nights of the universe. At last, he found the union and peace with the cosmos he had always sought.
The psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci in his book “The Power of Goodness” (2004), who recollects that myth, tells us that people who have a negative relationship with pain have a lower ability to feel empathy. For example, if I deny and protest all the time for my pain and suffering that could be caused by cancer, then the death of a loved one could be difficult to identify with the pain of others. That is to say, my suffering can be cultured to increase the pain or on the other hand it can be cultivation to practice empathy and in consequence, alleviate one’s own pain and that of others.
We all know of people who were abused as children, of parents whose children were murdered or abducted, whose daughter was raped and then they became activists to help other victims in similar situations. This can be a painful way to develop empathy, but much will depend on the attitude we choose in the face of pain and suffering.
According to Ferruci, there are studies that have shown that people who are most capable of feeling empathy, feel more satisfied with life, are healthier, less dogmatic and more creative. We also know that people who are more concerned with themselves tend to feel miserable.
Empathy can lead us to compassion. Compassion, feeling with passion, feeling in the bowels, is a quality that takes us away from greed, individualism, and loneliness. Compassion encompasses those who are far and near, leading us to reject social injustice, wars, abuse of nature, to really feel like brothers, perhaps because of this Jesus said: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”
Empathy can arise from our own pain as Chiron or be the product of our decision. Putting yourself in the place of others, walking in their shoes, makes us more free, more sensitive, more transparent and, ultimately, more human.