Friday, July 24, 2020

Have You No Empathy, Sir?

Yesterday's speech by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was brilliant.  She did a great job of addressing the misogyny of the Republican Congressman and of, well, his party.  I want to focus on one piece of it:

This reminds me of a current turnabout by a friend of the GOP: Chuck Woolery.  He scoffed at COVID-19 until his son tested positive.  This is not that different from the various politicians who are homophobic in their political stances until one of their kids comes out. 

This inability to see how serious something is until it happens to oneself or one's family demonstrates a lack of empathy.  It should not be that hard to see how something matters as it affects others.  To only care about something because it affects oneself is more than self-centered, it is borderline sociopathic. 

This pathology within the GOP existed before Trump although he exemplifies it.  He would not have gotten the GOP's nomination if there were enough Republicans who had significant empathy.  Just his mocking of the disabled should have activated the empathy of Republican voters.

So, yes, it has become increasingly clear to me that one of the key differences between Trumpists and Democrats (with NeverTrumpers being difficult to code) is empathy and its absence. 

The latest round of this is obviously mask wearing (vaccines, too, and then the left anti-vaxxers also fit into the club of the empathy-deprived), as the whole idea of wearing masks now is about protecting others.  Masks may help a bit in protecting oneself, but their primary role in this crisis is to limit exposing others to one's own possible corona-infected emissions. 

The big question is this: how we change this?  How do we foster more empathy?  Can we force these people to watch endless Pixar movies?  There is some good news.  One of the problems that the GOP is having is that the kids are more tolerant and more empathetic.  Not all of them, but many of them have friends who LGBTQ, which makes the appeals to hate less effective.  The next generation has a great deal of empathy, which helps to explain why so many of the millennials and gen z support Black Lives Matter and other causes.  So, there is hope, but I have no idea how to generate empathy among the existing GOP elites. 

Maybe this pandemic, creating such a common challenge and so much pain, will lead to a more empathetic public.  I am looking for the glimmers of silver linings in all of this in this darkest timeline. 

If you have any ideas of how to generate more empathy among those devoid of it, let me know.

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