Monday, March 05, 2012

What About Other People's Suffering? - NYTimes.com

Losers suffer and the very thought that some people might consider them losers drives some people into a state of total rage.

Not at the winners, but at the people worse off than they are. The idea that they might have something in common with the long term unemployed, the ill housed and near homeless, is about as acceptable as sharing a toilet with black people was to a white Mississippean in, say, 1948.

Like them, they will tell you that the situation and its proposed solutions are "Un-American," even unconstitutional.

Like them they weren't raised to be magnanimous or compassionate in the face of change.

Even if they were born with their advantages, they feel that they've worked hard to gain them and they have the right to do whatever is necessary to keep them.

God knows what they'll do to get them back.




Other People's Suffering - NYTimes.com

“The publication last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior” provided fresh fodder for the liberal critique of the Republican Party and the corporate ethic.
The paper, by Paul K. Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, and four colleagues, reports that members of the upper class are more likely than others to behave unethically, to lie during negotiations, to drive illegally and to cheat when competing for a prize.”

“A third scholarly essay, “Power, Distress, and Compassion: Turning a Blind Eye to the Suffering of Others,” produced similarly striking findings. In a test measuring empathy, each participant was assigned to listen, face to face, from two feet away, to someone else describing real personal experiences of suffering and distress.
The listeners’ responses were measured two ways, first by self-reported levels of compassion and second by electrocardiogram readings to determine the intensity of their emotional response. The participants all took a test known as the “sense of power” scale, ranking themselves on such personal strengths and weaknesses as ‘‘I can get people to listen to what I say’’ and ‘‘I can get others to do what I want,” as well as ‘‘My wishes do not carry much weight’’ and ‘‘Even if I voice them, my views have little sway,’’ which are reverse scored.
The findings were noteworthy, to say the least. For “low-power” listeners, compassion levels shot up as the person describing suffering became more distressed. Exactly the opposite happened for “high-power” listeners: their compassion dropped as distress rose.”
http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/other-peoples-suffering/?nl=opinion&emc=tya1
con·cept: What About Other People's Suffering? - NYTimes.com