Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The empathy deficit

Pres. Barack Obama gave this 2006 speech to Northwestern Univ. grads:
There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.

As you go on in life, cultivating this quality of empathy will become harder, not easier. ... Not only that — we live in a culture that discourages empathy.
Now Obama is known for his skyrocketing federal budget deficit, and his own personal empathy deficit. I guess he was speaking from experience, as his advisors have been begging him to fake some empathy for the BP oil spill.

Meanwhile research is showing that college student empathy is dropping, but there is plenty of empathy in ravens (birds) and robots.

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