Sunday, July 11, 2010

191 / Empathy

An excellent and engaging video by Jeremy Rifkin is included in this posting. Click on the link. It's well worth watching.

The video begins with an assertion that human beings are "soft wired" for empathy. The claim is that our brains are configured with "mirror neurons" that help us, automatically, to understand what other creatures feel.

If this is true, that means that we exist, in the world of Nature, as creatures predisposed to create what Rifkin is calling an "empathic civilization." How come we don't have one, then?

The world in which we live most immediately is not that natural world where "mirror neurons" provide us the tools for empathy. We live most immediately not in the World of Nature (the World God Made), but in a world we have created, and those two guys in the cartoon seem to be good representatives of the world with which we are most familiar. They are no Jeremy Rifkins.

All our "soft wiring" aside, creating an empathic civilization is going to require some "hard choices." We have an opportunity to create a world that is worthy of that empathic predisposition that Nature has provided. But that world of Nature is not the world in which we live each day. Our world is the world we create ourselves. It is, I continue to believe, a political world, and to change our world, we need to change our politics.

Maybe that guy on the right is not so far off.

1 comment:

  1. Great post today! And the Rifkin video was great--not least of all for the fun drawings ;^>. I fully support his theory. Of course there is the problem that not all people have the same opportunity and capacity for empathy. I think there is a kind of personal evolution that goes on as well as a physical one. Perhaps the world just needs to come to a point when there are more of the higher-minded than the lower-minded ones alive on the planet and then a balance could tip towards that empathetic world view and concrete progress. It could happen!


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