Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

6.25.2013

On Empathy: Thoughts on Articles

The other day I shared the first of the two articles that follow in quick succession on Facebook.  A friend messaged to ask if I intended a connection between them on a particular theme.  I hadn't, but one came to me when asked.  In response, I wrote:
They were just things that came across my feed that intrigued me. But if I were to connect them, I think it would be the way they attempt to promote empathy, how both those with money and those who are skinny tend to look down on everyone else and say, "If you want to be like me, then just work harder." It's not that simple, and people need to be more aware of the complexities instead of feeling so deserving and entitled.
The first article was about a series of studies that have shown those with money adopt feelings that they are deserving of it and become unsympathetic toward those with less.  I've previously posted in response to a report on the findings of the studies, "Helping the Rich Helps Me, Right?"  This newer link includes a video from PBS where those responsible for the studies talk about them.

The Psychology of Wealth

As this video clip explains, having wealth appears to affect us in a number of ways. Having more tends to make individuals feel entitled to even more; research shows they feel less generous and more entitled to take resources (such as candy they have been told is for children coming in later), more willing to cheat, and more accepting of unethical behavior. Privileged individuals — even those whose privilege is just having Monopoly rules rigged to ensure they win in an experiment — tend to believe they deserve their privilege.

These patterns show up regardless of political orientation, affecting both liberals and conservatives. Whatever good intentions we might have, the experience of being wealthy appears to affect us in ways it may be hard for individuals to notice, making privileged people feel they deserve their position and justifying behaviors that consolidate even more advantages.

The second article was about the global weight gain that's been seen in recent decades.  It doesn't provide any clear-cut answers, instead makes the point that that's exactly the point.  Weight gain and loss isn't as simple as many make it out to be, and it considers many of the different theories currently being investigated in an attempt to better understand this complex issue.

The Obesity Era

 . . . ‘The previous belief of many lay people and health professionals that obesity is simply the result of a lack of willpower and an inability to discipline eating habits is no longer defensible.’

Consider, for example, this troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. In fact, the researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of nine per cent per decade. Lab mice gained about 11 per cent per decade. Chimps, for some reason, are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35 per cent per decade. Allison, who had been hearing about an unexplained rise in the average weight of lab animals, was nonetheless surprised by the consistency across so many species. ‘Virtually in every population of animals we looked at, that met our criteria, there was the same upward trend,’ he told me.

It isn’t hard to imagine that people who are eating more themselves are giving more to their spoiled pets, or leaving sweeter, fattier garbage for street cats and rodents. But such results don’t explain why the weight gain is also occurring in species that human beings don’t pamper, such as animals in labs, whose diets are strictly controlled. In fact, lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species. . . . 

A couple of others that I consider related:

Chris Kluwe: Here's What's Wrong with Ayn Rand, Libertarians

John Galt (as written in said novel) is a deeply flawed, sociopathic ideal of the perfect human. John Galt does not recognize the societal structure surrounding him that allows him to exist. John Galt, to be frank, is a turd.

However, John Galt is also very close to greatness. The only thing he is missing, the only thing Ayn Rand forgot to take into account when writing “Atlas Shrugged,” is empathy.

John Galt talks about intelligence and education without discussing who will pay for the schools, who will teach the teachers. John Galt has no thought for his children, or their children, or what kind of world they will have to occupy when the mines run out and the streams dry up. John Galt expects an army to protect him but has no concern about how it’s funded or staffed. John Galt spends his time in a valley where no disasters occur, no accidents happen, and no real life takes place. . . .

In reality, hurricanes hit coastlines, earthquakes knock down buildings, people crash cars or trip over rocks or get sick and miss work. In reality, humans make good choices and bad choices based on forces even they sometimes don’t understand. To live with other human beings, to live in society, requires that we understand that shit happens and sometimes people need a safety net. Empathy teaches us that contributing to this safety net is beneficial for all, because we never know when it will be our turn. . . . 

6 Mind-Blowing Stats on How 1 Percent of the 1 Percent Now Dominate Our Elections

In the 2012 election cycle, 28 percent of all disclosed donations—that's $1.68 billion—came from just 31,385 people. Think of them as the 1 percenters of the 1 percent, the elite of the elite, the wealthiest of the wealthy. . . . 

(6) Of the 435 House members elected last year, 372—more than 85 percent—received more from the 1 percent of the 1 percent than they did from every single small donor combined. . . .

1 Comments:

At 6/27/2013 10:08 AM, Blogger CDL said...

:)

 

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