Einstein and human compassion, a message for life

Photo by Taton Moïse on Unsplash

In 1950, Albert Einstein wrote a letter full of symbolism, human compassion and depth to encourage a father who had just lost his young son to polio. Two decades later, The New York Times published this same text with great success, unknowingly giving us a formula of survival and hope.

We cannot call it religion, but we can call it a kind of cosmic spirituality, a sense of transcendence.

The pain of loss can be alleviated, according to the father of the theory of relativity, if one integrates the idea that each of us is part of a whole. What we think is gone remains in reality within us, in every fragment of our being.

Five years after writing this letter, Albert Einstein died of an aneurysm. Almost unknowingly, to his immense legacy for science and especially in the field of physics, he added this unique gift that began to circulate with more force with the Internet and social networks.

Sometimes we forget that Albert Einstein was much more than his outstanding scientific achievements. He was a violinist, a humanist, a person attached to social values.

He was also an admirable teacher and a faithful friend who always looked after his closest circle and did his best. This is reflected in all his letters and documents kept at Princeton University.

Among his long correspondence, we find exchanges with Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer… among this ocean of lines, we discover that Albert Einstein was, above all, a great support in times of suffering.

There is an example of this in the letter he sent to the Queen of Belgium. Elizabeth of Bavaria and Albert Einstein maintained a close friendship and a common passion : music.

In 1934, her husband died while practicing mountaineering and this tragedy devastated her. The father of the theory of relativity found the right words to comfort her and give her strength.

He did the same with Robert S. Marcus, a faithful and dear friend who in 1950 suffered the loss of his son. In this letter, he highlights a central concept that distinguishes them from others : human compassion was for Einstein a saving mechanism and a way to find meaning in life.

If there is something really difficult, it is to awaken hope in those who have lost the most precious thing. In these cases,” I’m sorry “or” his memory will always be in your heart “ is of little use.

What Albert Einstein tried with this text was to invite Ms Marcus to see beyond her own pain. He invited him to look up and feel that each of us forms a whole.

The anguish and harshness of loss must not envelop us in eternal suffering. We must transcend this state and awaken compassion, love and affection for everything around us…

Albert Einstein alluded to something we must remember : we do not exist separately. Individualism has no meaning or purpose in an interdependent world, in a universe where we are all part of a whole. Human compassion is the vehicle that allows us to transcend, to go beyond ourselves.

Genuine humanity transcends religions, ideologies, selfishness, fears and prejudices. Note that Albert Einstein was not the only one to approach human compassion from an almost cosmic perspective.

Carl Sagan also reminded us in one of his books that compassion, combined with our intelligence and technology, can allow us to create a meaningful and respectful life for the planet and thus touch the stars. Let’s keep in mind the words of these two unforgettable characters from the world of physics and astronomy.

Biologistuderende, socialist, veganer, environmentalist.

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