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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The dark side of empathy

About a month ago, I noticed a remark on Facebook by someone whom I know well. At least, I thought so. He posted a tirade against people with a different Covid-19 view. He stated that such people do not even deserve a vaccination or a hospital admittance. I decided not to question his views. I did wonder about the reasons for his emotional rage a.k.a. anger

Essentially, there are two opposing views on Covid-19: the micro and macro perspective (my blogs). The micro view is rooted in empathy (ie, emotion) with the corona casualties. The macro view is rooted in ratio and – to some extent – in the Greater Good theory or utilitarianism. The micro view (probably) assumes a lack of empathy in people having a macro view. 

My mother (86) often says to me that I should care less about “things”. I cannot because caring is in my genes. Not caring is not an option to me. At times, I care too much about “things” and then I start to suffer. It may take hours, days and sometimes weeks, to regain my balance. This phenomenon is part of the dark side of empathy (eg, Amazon, BOL, NPR, my 2019 blog).

Notwithstanding the above, I have a macro view on Covid-19. My empathy belongs to people who own businesses that may go bankrupt, young people lacking job prospects, poor people thrown back into extreme poverty, sick people forced to wait for surgery. The difference is that these millions of people are still alive, while the thousands of casualties are already dead.

NPR (2019): author Fritz Breithaupt “says our ability to identify with others’ feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships, like helicopter parenting.” I suppose this is the explanation for my introductory paragraph above. 

I must admit there is a substantial difference between my verbal and my written communication. My blogs represent the rational me, while my conversations often show the emotional me. My blogs apply the view of Persian philosopher Rumi (1207-1273), who once stated: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

I think, feel and believe that the dark side of empathy is part of a much bigger concept, called the Dark Side (my blogs, Wiki). This quote by Lorraine Toussaint sums it up well: “We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There’s a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy.”

The Dark Side (2018) by MUSE

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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