Perhaps we literally need to feel our own pain in order to feel the pain of others.
From a scientific perspective:
The ability to feel the pain of others is based on neurobiological processes which underlie pain experience in oneself. Using innovative methods, an international research team headed by psychologist Claus Lamm from the University of Vienna could show that a reduction of self-experienced pain leads to a reduction in empathy for pain in others as well.
From an aesthetic perspective (I realize screamo is not everyone’s idea of a pleasant Monday morning. Lyrics are below the video clip):
I know one day, all our scars will disappear, like the stars at dawn
All of our pain will fade away when morning comes
And on that day when we look backwards we will see that everything is changed
And all of our trials will be as milestones on the wayBut as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart
And there’s no greater love, than that one shed his blood for his friends
From a scriptural perspective:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11-12)
And finally a thought. We live in a society that is increasingly obsessed with avoiding suffering. We’ve reduced our ethical universe to focus on the avoidance of pain and little else. What happens if we succeed in our intentions, and create a world where pain is largely eliminated? How many of the destructive behaviors within our society are an attempt to do just that: numb ourselves until we are beyond feeling pain?
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.(Matthew 24:12)
Recognition of the vital role played by pain in our lives does not justify intentionally causing more pain to ourselves or others. It does not suggest we should fail to alleviate pain (including our own) when we can do so morally and responsibly. When we are in trouble–from depression to a car accident–we need to find help before we philosophize. But after we have done all that we know to do, some pain will remain. And it may help to realize this fact: that not all suffering can be avoided in good conscience, and that in those cases there is a chance to build bridges between broken hearts.