Empathy is typically defined as the capacity to share and understand the feelings of others. It’s reasonable to conclude that Mitch Albom and Morris “Morrie” Schwartz have an empathic relationship. They both appear to understand what it would be like to be in the other person’s predicament. Morrie takes an interest in Albom’s problems, like the newspaper strike. Albom, in turn, takes an interest in Morrie’s health and the wisdom that it generates.
Indeed, the two seem to share a deep camaraderie. Even if one makes the other uncomfortable, they understand that they’re making the other one uncomfortable. When Morrie cries in front of Albom, Morrie recognizes how his tears make Albom feel. “Ah, Mitch, I’m gonna loosen you up,” quips Morrie. “One day, I’m gonna show you that it’s okay to cry.”
Morrie’s empathy isn’t limited to Albom. He feels empathy with people suffering throughout the globe. After seeing violent images from Bosnia on TV, Morrie says, “I feel their anguish as if it were my own.”
This quote could complicate the claim that there’s more empathy in Albom’s book than in the modern world. Right now, many people seem to possess an understanding of people's suffering across the world. The #BlackLivesMatter movement, the #MeToo movement, and other social justice causes point to the ability for people to share and understand other people’s feelings within contemporary culture.
However, one could argue that empathy today lacks the personal, intimate empathy that’s illustrated in Albom’s work. It’s possible to contend that current empathy is rather superficial and performative.
Rather than argue about the quantity of empathy, perhaps tweak the thesis and make it about the quality of empathy. Consider how the empathy in Albom's book, as it relates to Albom and Morrie, comes off as more authentic or genuine because, when the two meet, there is no immediate audience. Their interactions take place in person and in private.