There was a contest on a social media site for a list of 50 objects that say Vermont. One entry was "One word: Empathy (with one another)"
Wow! Where to begin?
1. Object! Empathy is not an object, it is a thing but is not visible or tangible. We are looking for things like Fall folliage, sugar shacks or trustafarians on Church Street in Burlington.
2. "(with one another)" As opposed to what? Rocks, trees and rivers?
Enough with the trivial and easy criticism, what is the underlying meaning that is being, perhaps unwittingly, betrayed?
Since the contest is for things that say Vermont, a fair assumption is that they should be things which would be particular to Vermont and not to other places. That is, we are looking for things which are distinctively Vermont. The implication is that empathy is something unique to Vermonters. Well, don't we have a high opinion of ourselves? And by implication, low opinion of people from outside.
Clannish, check. Self-satisfied, check. Fully confident in one's moral superiority, check!