What's the difference between sympathy and empathy? Some might argue nothing, that they are virtual synonyms of each other; however, I beg to differ. Sympathy is when you feel sorry FOR someone. Empathy is when you feel sorry WITH someone.
Throughout my time in theater, I have had a number of sympathetic friends. These people understand how much of a sacrifice it is to leave the comforts of home and go to war. Although, my time here hasn't consisted of the stereotypical aspects of "war", I can say that I have one empathetic friend. This person knows what I have gone through because he has gone through the same thing. This is the case for my good friend Barrett, whom I've mentioned before in an earlier post.
"In January 2004, Barrett was activated and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Iraq he served as a Team Leader and participated in over 60 ground combat patrols and 50 tactical convoys in the Al Anbar province. He earned both a Meritorious Mast and a Combat Action Ribbon for leading his men under enemy fire" (http://veteran.typepad.com/about.html). Sorry, but three years of graduate school has taught me the importance of citations. Don't want to get busted for plagiarism!
Anyways, just like me, Barrett had to put his graduate studies on hold to fulfill his military obligation. Moreover, his experiences in theater have provided me with the kind of encouragement and support during some difficult times. You might have read some of the comments he's left on my blog, all of which have made me laugh, think, and relax during those tumultuous times in my deployment.
There are many things that we will experience in life. Some good, some bad; however, we must never forget that there are a plethora of people in this world who have experienced the same thing. I believe that God allows certain things to happen to us so that we might use our experiences to help those in a similar situation. It's a relation gift He has given us. I thank God for my friend Barrett. He's given me more than just a few words of support, he's shown me the importance of passing along my experiences to those who come after me.