Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Empathy Gap: The Source of So Much Polarization

The stories about people not wearing masks creating endless chains of COVID victims and how the GOP is so tied to these people and vice versa made me realize today something that I have been thinking about for some time: that the two parties have many differences but at the core is an empathy gap.

The GOP and its supporters do not care about others, only about themselves.  They want to gut policies that help others, especially others who are different.  The Democrats constantly fight for those who are different from themselves.  They disagree often about how to do that, but they aim to foster policies that help others.

The masking stuff is the most obvious manifestation and maybe we would have gotten more masking by GOP if Trump had rallied in favor of masks.  I can't remember how many times a Republican switched on an issue because it affected someone in their family.  One would become less intolerant of LGBTQ because their child came out.  Why?  Why does it take something happening to a family member to take an issue seriously? Because they and their party are blind to the concerns of others.  It is hard-wired into their ideology and their identity.  Stuff only matters if it happens to themselves and their immediate kin.  

One might think this is only a Trump thing but it existed before Trump AND Trump is also a product of the lack of empathy.  He is not only the candidate for racists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, anti-semites, etc but also those that are simply bitterly resentful of the success of others.  Think of how much of his stance and his supporters are simply to trigger the Liberals.  Jealousy, envy, resentment--these are pretty much the opposite of empathy.  

Perhaps the big failure of the pandemic was to tell people that masks were more effective at protecting others than protecting themselves.  It might have been a lie to suggest otherwise, but it might have led to more mask-wearing.  Then again, we know that social distancing works to protect oneself yet people aren't doing that either, so the lack of empathy can't explain everything.  

I just grow incredibly angry and frustrated that the selfishness of people is a key engine for the pandemic.  The pandemic is hard to manage everywhere, but the US is finding it harder than most.  Why?  Because people do not care about their impact on others.  Well, that and having leadership that say it is a hoax, leading to so many people denying the reality even when it is literally shoved down their throats via intubation.  

This really will be the winter of our discontent, as it didn't have to be this bad, and people are still making bad decisions that get other people killed. 

No comments: