Compassion, empathy and the common good

Compassion is the glue holding the world together. Sister Joan Chittister,

Collective Compassion by Gary Haugen TED2015, March 2015 The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now Collective compassion has meant an overall decrease in global poverty since the 1980s, says civil rights lawyer Gary Haugen. Yet for all the world’s aid money, there’s a pervasive hidden problem keeping poverty alive. Haugen reveals the dark underlying cause we must recognize and act on now.

Too Many People Can’t Break Out of Their Comfort Zones of Routine to Feel Empathy by MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, February 6, 2015

Are Republicans Social Darwinists? By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, April 2012

Where are the compassionate conservatives? By Eugene Robinson Opinion writer September 15, 2011  Government is more than a machine for collecting and spending money, more than an instrument of war, a book of laws or a shield to guarantee and protect individual rights. Government is also an expression of our collective values and aspirations…I believe the Republican candidates’ pinched, crabby view of government’s nature and role is immoral. I believe the fact that poverty has risen sharply over the past decade — as shown by new census data — while the richest Americans have seen their incomes soar is unacceptable. I believe that writing off whole classes of citizens — the long-term unemployed whose skills are becoming out of date, thousands of former offenders who have paid their debt to society, millions of low-income youth ill-served by inadequate schools — is unconscionable.

The Worst Ideas of the Decade – Compassionate conservatism by Reihan Salam, Washington Post, December 2009  – Compassionate conservatism won George W. Bush the White House in 2000, a year Democrats should have taken in a landslide. But over the next eight years, it badly undermined the Republican reputation for competence and fiscal rectitude…While compassionate conservatism elected a Republican president, it may have set the stage for an era of crony capitalism in which real entrepreneurship and growth are snuffed out for a generation.

The Power of Compassion — Karen Armstrong, Moyers Moment, March 13, 2009 -  “My work has continually brought me back to the notion of compassion. Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you….We’ve got to do better than this. Compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for people. It doesn’t mean pity. It means putting yourself in the position of the other, learning about the other. Learning what’s motivating the other, learning about their grievances.

How the Common Good Is Transforming Our World by Douglas LaBier,, October 17, 2010 … a steadily growing consciousness and behavior that refocuses personal lives and public policies towards promoting the common good.  By the “common good” I’m referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow self-interest, and towards those guided by inclusiveness — supporting well-being, economic success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some.
It’s like a stealth operation, because it hasn’t become highly visible yet. But polls, surveys and research data reveal several strands of change that are coalescing in this overall direction….It’s an awareness of interconnection of all lives on this planet, and a pull towards acting upon that reality in a range of ways. They include rethinking personal relationships, the responsibility of business to society, and the role of government in an interdependent world.

The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis, Huffington Post, November 9, 2012 /the-prerequisite-of-the-common-good/people are longing for a vision of the common good that includes everyone…a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan. That requires a political engagement that emphasizes issues and people above personalities and partisanship…The prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.…

The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, Interview by Amanda Gefter, New, February 17, 2010 — The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, Interview by Amanda Gefter, New, February 17, 2010 -
…before we can save ourselves from climate change we have to break a vicious circle and embrace a new model of society based on scientists’ new understanding of human nature…the premise of The Empathic Civilization…We have to think deeper, to think as a human family…Empathy goes hand-in-hand with selfhood; if you know you’re a self you can see yourself in relation to the other…Increasing individuation and selfhood is critical to increasing empathy… Empathy is the invisible social glue that allows a complex individuated society to remain integrated…

The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way by Brian Alexander, MSNBC, August 10, 2011 Studies Suggest The ‘Haves’ show less empathy than ‘Have-nots’ …the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish…the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class “ideology of self-interest.”… There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal. The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.

The Growing Realization That Our Individual Struggles Are All Connected Makes This “Our Moment” By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, December 7, 2013

6 Habits of Highly Empathic People By Roman Krznaric, Greater Good, posted on, September 1, 2014 …Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives. But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions…The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid…. psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships [9] in the first two years of life.  But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood empathic personalities over the past 10 years — reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives [6], and thus improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!

Habit 1: Cultivate Curiosity about Strangers

Habit 2: Challenge Prejudices and Discover Commonalities

Habit 3: Try Another Person’s Life

Habit 4: Listen Hard — and Open Up

Habit 5: Inspire Mass Action and Social Change – We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change…Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children…the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action…This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.

Habit 6: Develop an Ambitious Imagination – We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way…Organizations, too, should be ambitious with their empathic thinking…in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership….

The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.

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