Monday, March 30, 2015
#89 / Empathy By Group
"Can mapping neural pathways help us make friends with our enemies?"
This is the question posed in an article titled "The Empathy Gap," which appeared in the print version of the March 22, 2015 edition of The New York Times Magazine. In the online version, the article is titled "The Brain's Empathy Gap."
I liked the article, and I recommend it. What struck me most, however, was a description of experiments that demonstrate that we are able to empathize most effectively with people who are in the "same group" with which we identify.
So, our deadly drone strikes against wedding parties in Yemen or Afghanistan don't cause us the same kind of discomfort that carrying out such drone strikes in Brooklyn or San Ramon might cause. After all, those folks in Afghanistan and Yemen aren't "Americans."
I think we'd better start refining, and redefining, our group allegiances. Specifically, in a world facing the climate crisis of global warming, nationalism is "so over!"
It's you and me, whoever you are, and we are all in this together. That's what I think.
I mean it, too. Even Republicans!