Does Empathy Cause Us to Care Too Much About the Wrong Things?

And too little about what matters most?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What does your empathy tell you?

If you’re like me, you probably had an initial reaction of horror and disgust to this story.

Are the people of Omelas evil?

It’s easy to make a snap judgment about the citizens of Omelas. They go about their days seemingly oblivious to the fact that everything they love and value is dependent upon a horrible truth.

“The arithmetic of compassion”

Joseph Stalin is reputed to have said, The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of one million is a statistic.

“It seems that we are psychologically wired to help only one person at a time. And we don’t even care to do that if we sense that there are others we cannot help.”

~Scott Slovic and Paul Slovic, New York Times

Zbigniew Herbert, poet and essayist, called this “the arithmetic of compassion.”

What can we do?

You might be tempted to think that these are different kinds of situations.

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about science, meditation, and spirituality.

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