Empathy for the Other


From the Guardian: “James Watson, co-unraveller of DNA, told television viewers recently how “embarrassed” he is to meet scientists who believe in God, or indeed who take religion seriously.”

Except for some birds and fish which migrate from hemisphere to hemisphere, few creatures can look far beyond from their own local perspective: Aesop’s frog in the well is the most acute case of it all.
Whether we are scientists or philosophers, Christians or Hindus, Europeans or Chinese, Blacks or Whites, or whatever, most of us are so conditioned by our various affiliations that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to consider human and cultural issues from global perspectives (unless one is the CEO of a multi-national corporation, in which case the bottom line takes precedence over national, religious, or ethnic loyalty).
This is the price we pay for the comfort, security, and richness that we derive from ethnic, national, religious, racial, linguistic, and other such group affiliations.
What we may attempt to do with some success is to make an effort to look at issues from the framework of those not of our own group, sect, or subsect, so as to develop some understanding, even sympathy, for alien views and perspectives.
Perhaps, from such understanding we will be able to soften our own positions, lower our self-centered demands, and thus lessen the potential for the pain and suffering that might ensue from uncompromising rigidity in confrontational situations.

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