The empathetic Liberal

The following excerpt caught my eye. It’s part of an article exploring the liberal leaning of Hollywood speculating that the very nature of acting, to unionization and empathy may explain Hollywood’s political direction.

Surveys show that liberals see themselves, anyway, as more empathetic and kindhearted than conservatives, a self-conception reinforced by political rhetoric. But in a recent paper, the psychologist Adam Waytz and his colleagues report a more nuanced finding: The main thing distinguishing liberals and conservatives in this regard isn’t how empathetic they are overall; rather, the key difference is how much empathy they feel for specific groups. Where conservatives empathize foremost with family members and country, liberals extend the bounds of empathy to include friends, the socially disadvantaged and citizens of the world, to whom they’d like government to lend a hand.

It’s not implausible that empathy could help explain actors’ progressive sympathies. If that’s the case, though, it testifies to the remarkable human capacity for hypocrisy that, until now, the bounds of empathy among liberal men in Hollywood have not stretched to include female actors subject to sexual and economic exploitation. Source: Neil Gross NYTs “Why is Hollywood so Liberal?” 1-27-18

Empathy, when real, is a fine thing. But empathy driven by a sense of guilt or to garner attention is not. It is my theory that so-called empathy among the Hollywood set and the mega wealthy is the guilt type of empathy.

To put it in the simplest terms assume a child wants a certain toy. A parent feeling guilt related to the child (perhaps lack of attention) or desiring the child’s affection simply buys the toy and continues that pattern labeling it empathy for the child. Another parent explains the process it takes to obtain the toy and provides a way for the child to achieve her goal; displaying a different type of empathy and perhaps a different sense of achievement for the child.

Liberal vs conservative; both empathetic in their own mind. It’s not the feeling of empathy that differs, it’s what you do about it and how. The key words above are “government to lend a hand.” Of course, it’s not government, but society that is lending a hand and that is a key difference as well.

When we go beyond lending a hand, we create dependency. And in my opinion we make it far harder for the individual to not to stay dependent on “government.” The American liberal left is seeking to take us further beyond lending a hand.

Definition of empathy

: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

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