View Poll Results: What role should empathy play in political decisions/creating a more perfect union?

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Thread: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

  1. #1
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    What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    We talk a lot about morality/ethics guiding political decisions (abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, war, the ethics of lobbying, etc.) but I hardly ever hear anyone talk about empathy as an essential part of politics. In fact, it seems that lack of empathy is rewarded a lot of the time.

    Some of us disregard the experiences that bring illegal immigrants to our country, condemn soldiers as 'glorified killers', reject the feelings of someone who contemplates abortion, reject the idea of letting someone 'who made themselves poor' benefit from taxes, disregard the value of 'gun culture' to some citizens, dismiss observations of racism as 'pulling the race card' and so on.

    In other words, not having empathy or showing signs of having it has, in a sense, become 'cool' in politics not only in the U.S., but everywhere.

    I want my country to be built on a foundation of many values from freedom to equality, but also empathy. I can't imagine the citizens of an ideal state not considering it a primary tool for building their country. Not only is it useful for understanding how to solve social problems, but it also just creates a more positive atmosphere of people who, while disagreeing with each other, at least know that the other side understands where they're coming from.

    So I am curious to know what you guys think. What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Quote Originally Posted by theplaydrive View Post
    We talk a lot about morality/ethics guiding political decisions (abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, war, the ethics of lobbying, etc.) but I hardly ever hear anyone talk about empathy as an essential part of politics. In fact, it seems that lack of empathy is rewarded a lot of the time.

    Some of us disregard the experiences that bring illegal immigrants to our country, condemn soldiers as 'glorified killers', reject the feelings of someone who contemplates abortion, reject the idea of letting someone 'who made themselves poor' benefit from taxes, disregard the value of 'gun culture' to some citizens, dismiss observations of racism as 'pulling the race card' and so on.

    In other words, not having empathy or showing signs of having it has, in a sense, become 'cool' in politics not only in the U.S., but everywhere.

    I want my country to be built on a foundation of many values from freedom to equality, but also empathy. I can't imagine the citizens of an ideal state not considering it a primary tool for building their country. Not only is it useful for understanding how to solve social problems, but it also just creates a more positive atmosphere of people who, while disagreeing with each other, at least know that the other side understands where they're coming from.

    So I am curious to know what you guys think. What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    None. We should crush all of our enemies, kill all who oppose us without mercy, and glory in hearing the lament of their women and children, whom we will now take as OUR women and children. Muwhahahahaha.

    Fiddling While Rome Burns
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    "I used to roll the dice; see the fear in my enemies' eyes... listen as the crowd would sing, 'now the old king is dead, Long Live the King.'.."

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    The problem is that empathy can be the enemy of objectivity. Ideally, legislation should not be based on "feelings" plus, there are issues where empathy may play a role on both sides, as in abortion. You can legislate morality, I don't think though, you can legislate empathy. Besides, if you're empathetic to a particular group, that's what charity is for.
    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
    Mahatma Gandhi


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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    None. We should crush all of our enemies, kill all who oppose us without mercy, and glory in hearing the lament of their women and children, whom we will now take as OUR women and children. Muwhahahahaha.

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    I realize you thought you would receive reasonable, well thought-out responses to your thread. I empathize with your disappointment.

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Everyone who claims that we should be objective only end up basing that on subjective things. I believe we need to be less in our heads and more in our intuitive selves, and I'm not referring to emotions here. Emotions are erratic and not trustworthy. Every time I have ignored my intuition it has lead to negative consequences. Empathy operates along the same lines.

    Political debates are so heady and intellectual. They are almost completely disconnected from the heart and even more so over the internet. This is tantamount to verbal masturbation and not much else because it deals with the logical brain only.

    The kind of discourses we are seeing in our government are nothing more than shouting matches now. People won't let themselves feel vulnerable because there is no compassion being shown and no empathy. Because of this, our representatives are no longer listening to each other. Empathy could change everything.

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    The primary benefit of empathy is not that you actually agree with the other guy, but that you can understand his situation. That understanding gives you the insight needed to predict their actions. The miserable failure in Iraq planning could have trivially been avoided with a little empathy. All that was required was asking this: "If America was invaded by a foreign country for any reason whatsoever, would we great the occupiers with flowers or bullets?". Even in circumstances where you hate the other guy and want to destroy him, it is always the advantage if you can think like he does.

    The reason why such thinking is unpopular nowadays is that you can't demonize the other guy with that kind of thinking. Most political issues in American are based around issues where both sides actually want the same thing, but don't agree on the methods. It is hard to call the other guy an evil monster who wants to destroy America simply because his plan for providing affordable healthcare is different from yours.

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Temporal View Post
    Everyone who claims that we should be objective only end up basing that on subjective things. I believe we need to be less in our heads and more in our intuitive selves, and I'm not referring to emotions here. Emotions are erratic and not trustworthy. Every time I have ignored my intuition it has lead to negative consequences. Empathy operates along the same lines.

    Political debates are so heady and intellectual. They are almost completely disconnected from the heart and even more so over the internet. This is tantamount to verbal masturbation and not much else because it deals with the logical brain only.

    The kind of discourses we are seeing in our government are nothing more than shouting matches now. People won't let themselves feel vulnerable because there is no compassion being shown and no empathy. Because of this, our representatives are no longer listening to each other. Empathy could change everything.
    I agree completely that empathy could change pretty much everything about the way this country runs. It's even evident in a conversation between two people. When they make no attempt to imagine themselves in the other's position, the conversation tends to go nowhere productive. Just the simple knowledge that the other person understands where you're coming from and that they're making an effort, enables people to develop more creative and even compromising ideas.

    But yeah, I agree, many people aren't willing to go there and if you have a population of people who aren't willing to empathize (for many reasons), you have a population that doesn't listen and a population willing to self-destruct.

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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    The primary benefit of empathy is not that you actually agree with the other guy, but that you can understand his situation. That understanding gives you the insight needed to predict their actions. The miserable failure in Iraq planning could have trivially been avoided with a little empathy. All that was required was asking this: "If America was invaded by a foreign country for any reason whatsoever, would we great the occupiers with flowers or bullets?". Even in circumstances where you hate the other guy and want to destroy him, it is always the advantage if you can think like he does.

    The reason why such thinking is unpopular nowadays is that you can't demonize the other guy with that kind of thinking. Most political issues in American are based around issues where both sides actually want the same thing, but don't agree on the methods. It is hard to call the other guy an evil monster who wants to destroy America simply because his plan for providing affordable healthcare is different from yours.
    It's dumbfounding to me how little value many people seem to give to this aspect of empathy. It is an incredibly practical tool in solving social and political problems. You understand how to prevent terrorism when you can understand the terrorists, but like you said...empathy makes it difficult to demonize which for whatever reasons, many of us need or like to do. It's easier to call a terrorist Satan and write his actions of as 'senseless' than it is to put yourself in their position and try to decipher their reasons for attacking, so that we can do our best to eliminate those reasons.

    I guess it just feels better to cut yourself off from understanding and just project your anger onto a villain. The ironic part is, with things like Iraq and al-Qaeda, it seems like you're doing the best thing for your country by disregarding the thoughts and emotions behind the "enemy's", but it's really a harmful and impractical action. Just like doctors need to understand diseases in order to treat them, citizens need to understand their 'enemies' in order to stop them from acting and each other in order to build a stable country.

  10. #10
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    Re: What role do you think empathy should play in creating a 'more perfect union'?

    Quote Originally Posted by X Factor View Post
    The problem is that empathy can be the enemy of objectivity. Ideally, legislation should not be based on "feelings" plus, there are issues where empathy may play a role on both sides, as in abortion. You can legislate morality, I don't think though, you can legislate empathy. Besides, if you're empathetic to a particular group, that's what charity is for.
    I agree that you can't legislate empathy, but I meant using it more as a tool to evaluate social problems and other people's ideas. For example, empathy enables you to understand what someone has seen in society (that you perhaps have not) that motivates them to support a policy that you ordinarily wouldn't. This doesn't apply simply to emotional issues like abortion or gay marriage; it applies to all issues from foreign policy to the economy. I mean, military strategists have to employ empathy in order to understand what the enemy is going to do, how much intensity they will act with and what kind of support they will have from the population.

    For me, empathy is less about 'feelings' and more about understanding the causes of ideas and actions.

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