One of my Facebook friends (actually a cousin of mine) shared this yesterday:
And while I'm obviously not about to comment on it, because when I saw it she had posted it about fifteen minutes ago and already had a dozen likes (and so that leads me to believe that the majority of her friends are in agreement and would respond to any comment of mine with a good, old-fashioned flame war), I have some thoughts.
First, I think this is true in a very limited way. I think the basics of right and wrong are easily assimilated from society. There's no one out there who doesn't know that murder is wrong, even if some people don't care. This extends to kindness to animals and babies, not taking things that don't belong to you, and not cheating on your spouse.
But empathy is not enough, not even close. In fact, empathy is a well-known signpost on the proverbial road to hell that's paved with good intentions.
Consider a high school girl who finds herself pregnant. She goes to a Catholic high school (which will not let her attend with a baby bump), she has conservative parents who she thinks will kick her out if they find out, and she wants to just undo the problem. Empathy might lead you to help her procure an abortion.
Empathy would have led you astray.
This girl does not need an abortion, she needs support. She needs counseling to help her deal with telling her parents, she needs a place to live if she's right about them kicking her out of the house, she needs help exploring adoption and parenting options. She needs love, not the false compassion that helps her murder the child growing within her because it's inconvenient.
Religion, on the other hand, has something to say about this. The One True Religion, Catholicism, is an especially good resource for answers. Present a moral dilemma to four anti-religionists and you will get four completely different answers provided by "empathy" or "ethics." Ask the Catechism, and you will get one clear answer. The right answer.
How arrogant to think that a single human mind is capable of correctly assessing every situation for its moral answer!
Thank God for His Holy Church here on Earth.
Thank God for the Magisterium, wrestling with issues and passing down what is good and right.