Question and Answer on Empathy


In an internet conversation, the following question was posed.

Am I wrong in thinking that to promote empathy for those with whom you are sympathetic while demonizing those with whom you disagree is the secular version of claiming that God is on your side?

My answer: In my view, you are not only not wrong, but are absolutely correct.

Furthermore, you have drawn attention to a most important impediment to any solution of the countless problems we are facing today, both within and among nations.

This <God/Truth is on my side, and on my side alone, while the Devil/Falsehood is with my enemy> complex is as ancient as ideological wars which have raged and ruined human history time and time again.

Yes, for long this ailment plagued (and continues to plague) only religious bigots and zealots who were/are convinced that their own vision of God and prophet  was/is the only correct one, and that those who disagreed were deserving of and would surely be expedited to some very hot and uncomfortable transcendental region that is awaiting the erring souls in their post mortem phase.

Thank goodness we came to a period in  history when the forces of Enlightenment took control (at least in some parts of the world) and shielded dissidents from ruthless persecution.

But now, those liberating forces are themselves beginning to embrace the mindset of fearsome theocracy.

Though I am myself prone to side with the groups that are disparagingly labeled liberals when it comes to fighting for a cause, at the philosophical level I am bewildered and frightened by true believers on both sides.  Their blindness to whatever shred of goodness there may be in their ideological adversaries not only provokes escalating verbal abuse of and attitudinal contempt for the other, but also makes solution to any serious problem virtually impossible.

That is why I fear there is very little hope for resolving our many problems as long as this medieval intolerance of contrary views in thought and word  continues to persist.

November 22, 2011

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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