Is empathy/compassion a finite resource?

Lou

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Us vegans get this a lot. How can you care so much about animal's lives where there is so much/many _______.
Injustice, civil rights violations, human rights violations, etc.

My answer has always been, I can care about more than one thing at a time.

Today that concept has been challenged in my mind. In fact, it was sort of a gut punch that I have not gotten over yet.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Invisiblia. The show's title is The End Of Empathy.

You can listen to it here.
or where ever you get your podcasts.
It's a 50-minute episode and although I can summarize the show I doubt I can provide you with the emotional response I got from the show. So I am going to recommend that you listen to the show.

Here is the text summary.
In this experimental show we tell the story of Jack, a young man who was part of a group called incels who espouse vile and sometimes violent views about women. We tell it in a way which allows you to empathize with Jack, and then we tell it a second time in a way which makes you hate him more thoroughly. The show examines the history of empathy in American culture, which was once considered the road to peace and progress, and in this era of political polarization has largely fallen out of fashion.​
Even the summary falls way short of explaining what the show was really like. Maybe a poor analogy but the best one that I can come up with is that empathy may be like our attention spans. We can only hold so much in our minds at one time. The other aspect was sort of a generational thing. Back in the 70s empathy was revered, cultivated, and taught as a virtue. In today's polarized society there is more of an us vs them thing going on.

Or maybe us vegans are just really good at compassion.

Anyway, an interesting and provocative piece. Might make a good listen on your long drive to Grandma's this weekend.
 
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TofuRobot

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*WE vegans ;)
Thanks for the link to the podcast. It seems like I just heard a breif intro of something about empathy on my local public radio that I listen to in the morning - but I never got a chance to hear the actual show/story. I wonder if it was the same one (it was just a couple of days ago)...
 

Blissful

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When one knows oneself as a spiritual being using a body in this world , then one never runs out of empathy or compassion . When one awakens to one's true identity , one knows that we are all the One ..

The trick is , to Be Love .. Being that , is to always feel yourself in the "other" - deep down , what we all wish for is to feel good - which means feeling loved and accepted ... and to have another being to love .. Many humans carry emotional baggage which prevents them from finding that part of themselves - they carry fear and anger and it becomes hatred and aggression and a disconnection from others .. This can be extreme at times ..

If we all knew our True nature , we wouldn't even need to discuss empathy and compassion.. It would just be natural ..

Every event and experience is an opportunity to grow .. I know this as Truth in my own life .
Some of us are ready to grow , many of us aren't .. In the end , we all go back to the same Source ..

Blessings to all . xo
 

Lou

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*WE vegans ;)
Thanks for the link to the podcast. It seems like I just heard a breif intro of something about empathy on my local public radio that I listen to in the morning - but I never got a chance to hear the actual show/story. I wonder if it was the same one (it was just a couple of days ago)...
Probably. The podcast just came out last Friday. Not sure how NPR broadcasts Invisibilia. I would guess it the kind of show that would be broadcast on the weekends.

Darn grammar police. :)
 
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Lou

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A major point I stand by; not exploiting monks/nuns.

Perceive component="human" and generator="monastary"

Is the "light" consumed exploitatively, misusingly, rightly, sustainably, strengthening, aligningly?
Love, hope, compassion, caring, friendliness etc. - all thoughtpatterns, habits, surplus etc. generated and consumed. Living batteries the same.

Think in terms of real estate: A lighthouse is worth more than a religious one. - something I picked up on.

What is compassion used for?
As parts of productionlines like cramped environments of continuous presence - schools and studying; processing of knowledge, coherence across ideas etc.?

I am glad I live vegan..
I kind of "fill less" even if it can seem different. Partially the surplus I generate and partially the strengthened empathy unlocking navigative ability like fish in stream and partly the less needing to navigate around negative intentions and seekings of consumption ending making for much less cost and consumption - freeing this up for me as an individual for further well-investment.
I used to think the same thing!!

Then I came down off the acid.
 

Forest Nymph

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Hmmm....I have to reflect more on this, but I think people who make excuses are secular humanists who are trapped in a kind of paradigm where they glorify the man-made world, and they tend to actually be centrists politically - like they want their cake and eat it too (or rather they want their peace and progress and eat their animals too)...some of these same people claim to sympathize with democratic socialist views, but there's also evidence they have no plans to give up their privileges and attachments to capitalist exploitation, either.

So I guess what I'm saying is that this isn't about empathy being a "finite resource" it's about a society of people being locked into an exploitative capitalist paradigm along with a rigid secular humanist ethical belief system that humans are "inherently good" and basically the center of the universe. I've read academic articles about how humanists are actually dangerous to the animal rights movement and even to other issues like environmental degradation and climate change, because ultimately they've been so conditioned to believe in the Greatness of Man that they refuse to sacrifice anything, delusionally believe people can "fix everything," refuse to take personal responsibility for their own role in the violence (this is a BIG component, of course a person with this level of emotional immaturity isn't going to be as empathetic....), and overall don't get it.

Not that we should live in a constant state of self-hatred, but anyone who doesn't take personal responsibility for and reflect on human responsibility for animal suffering, climate change, and environmental degredation, as well as their own role in the capitalist system for oppressing people of color or other marginalized groups, is ALWAYS going to have limited empathy. They're emotionally still an adolescent. The West is full of people who are physically and intellectually adults, but emotionally teenagers. Thanks, capitalism!

Anyway....to argue the other side, we all have our "purpose" or "niche"....maybe some people really are better with people, and some people are better with animals...any one person can't do everything, or solve every problem. You can suffer from something called empathy burn-out or emotional fatigue if you try to take on too much. One person can only do what they can.

It's still not an excuse for people who claim to be empathetic, "woke" or left-leaning to say they're not gonna be vegan because children are starving in Africa. Just show them a chart then of how some children are starving in Africa because Western corps are feeding their grain and soy to "meat animals."

I'm attending a conference this weekend with an organization that sees all of it as intersectional, the social justice, the economic justice, the environmental sustainability, and every month their pot-luck meetings are vegan. Isn't that cool?
 

Hazelsqueak

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There is a book called "Why We Love the Dogs We Do" by Stanley Coren. There is a chapter called Can You Love Dogs and Still Love People? Basically, the answer is yes. In fact, animal lovers are more likely to help out their fellow humans than non-animal people. On the other hand, people who don't care about animals tend to not give a **** about their fellow humans either. So, whenever someone bitches about animal lovers not caring about "the children" I just roll my eyes and move on with my life.
 
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Sax

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Finally got around to listening to the podcast.

My take: Empathy isn't a finite resource, but we're limited by finite resources (time and brain processing power) when it comes to accessing and acting on that empathy. We have all sorts of biases which allow more efficient use of those resources but the results are imperfect.
 

Lou

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Finally got around to listening to the podcast.

My take: Empathy isn't a finite resource, but we're limited by finite resources (time and brain processing power) when it comes to accessing and acting on that empathy. We have all sorts of biases which allow more efficient use of those resources but the results are imperfect.

Thanks, Sax,
I appreciate you taking the time to listen to the podcast and allowing it to inform your opinion. I was really taken aback by the podcast.
When I was listening to the podcast I went thru pretty much the same thing as the producer.
Did you have an emotional response to it.?
 

chickendminus

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Lou, this an interesting post and I don't even have an opinion necessarily, just wanted to thank you for giving me this question. It's a real "hmmmm'er" and frankly, I am here for it. :)
 
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