I found this quote, from sculptor John M. Soderberg, in Writing Begins with the Breath by Laraine Herring. It resonates with a number of conversations I have had in the past few days.
"One of the most crucial human qualities, I believe, is empathy. Given empathy, brutality becomes impossible. Empathy is at the heart of our humanity, and in fact is the heart of our humanity, for it reduces the barriers of race, religion, and creed to items of mild interest, while unlocking our true, inherent human dignity. The act of encapsulating empathy in some medium, be it dance, or music, painting or sculpture, simple stories or more complex forms, is my definition of art. The feeling and then the sharing of an emotion or idea--which is the essence of art--is what makes us human."