When you’ve been touched by someone’s compassion or kindness, the experience stays with you, a soothing reminder in times of trouble. Experiencing empathy is especially important in childhood: we have yet to learn to reach out and thus depend on other people’s goodwill.

From my own childhood, two such people stand out in my memory. One was a teacher who never reprimanded me for arriving late—he seemed to sense that my home life was chaotic and that it was a feat just to get to sc...


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