Helping people in need is one of the greatest forms of empathy. During a backbreaking war, when you are disgusted by yourself, empathy can be the one thing that can lift your spirits and make you feel better about yourself again. In the book, All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul is very empathetic to the starving Russian prisoners when he generously gives cigarettes and food to them. While Paul is stationed at a training facility, he and his companions are only a barb covered wire fence away from a Russian prison camp. One night, Paul notices a handful of Russian prisoners who are famished, tired, and disheveled. The prisoners were plastered against the fence pleading for food and cigarettes.
“My heart beats fast: this is the aim, the great, the sole aim, that I have thought of in the trenches; that I have looked for as the only possibility of existence after this annihilation of all human feeling; this is a task that will make life afterward worthy of these hideous years. I take out my cigarettes, break each one in half and give them to the Russians. They bow to me and then light the cigarettes. Now red points glow in every face. They comfort me; it looks as though there were little windows in dark village cottages saying that behind them are rooms full of peace.” [All Quite on the Western Front, Chapter 8]
We see Paul’s empathy when he gives up his own food and cigarettes to Russian prisoners without any incentive except the desire to make people lives better. When your life is filled with the task of killing other humans, all little boosts of happiness are multiplied by quantities unimaginable. As humans, it is imperative that we be empathetic to those who are less fortunate, it will create a common peace between the people and make the world a better place.