"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." - Stanislas Jerzy Lec
This was a quote used by Dr. Anita Nowak of McGill University in her keynote address at the program "Cultivating Compassion, Empathy, Leadership, and Social Change" at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, today. Her speech was entitled "Empathic Action Rocks: Join the Movement That Can Change Your Life and Change the World.”
It was the only note I took because I couldn't keep up with her presentation and take notes, too. I wanted to double check it before posting, but in doing so, I found the same thought a couple of centuries earlier.
"Aucun flocon de neige ne se sent responsable de l'avalanche." - Voltaire
"No snowflake feels responsible for the avalanche."
I think Nowak's point was that we should feel empathy for those who have problems whether we contributed to those problems or not. And empathy is beyond sympathy; it is doing something to help solve another's problem.
Putting the quote another way, no one person taking water from a well will feel responsible for the well running dry.