recall, in the first episode, I found two articles on empathy and planned to write some awesome, uplifting post. sorry, that ain’t goin’ happen. don’t blame me, blame the material.
i found the second article in the nytimes, empathy is actually a choice offers up a more mixed message. while we may feel empathy for the bawling little girl down the street, we feel less empathy for the mass of people three states over suffering from a natural disaster or even the struggles in some other part of the world. the article went on to say that perhaps empathy could be seen less as a moral good that a moral failing.
the article then shifts taking a slightly more conciliatory tone, the idea that people choose empathy.
the first study they talked about, people were told about a single or eight girls suffering in sudan. half were asked to support, the other half weren’t. the half that didn’t get asked to support ended up to be the more generous group.
they went on to mention people in power, even if only a temporary situation, feel less empathy. the situation creates a separation between them and other because they have less incentive to interact with others.
the article also discussed that empathy is likely not a fixed trait but something that can be learned. that makes me happy and gives me hope. i find solution based support to be mostly free of empathy; a process of trying to feel what the other is feeling. on the other hand, i find acknowledgment based support to have a far greater chance of feeling empathy or reaching a empathic state. perhaps, their is still hope for the people who primarily offer solution based support to learn a more empathic approach. even empathy deficient disorders like psychopathy or narcissism can learn empathy to some degree.
so, while we struggles with degrees of empathy as situations become more distant, hope still exists. that hope lies in the fact that empathy is not a fixed trait, but something that can be learned. I must stay, i consider the last thought to be hopeful.