America has a crisis of empathy.
That crisis isn’t expressed as lack of charitable giving: Americans give approximately seven times what Europeans do to charity per capita. And it isn’t expressed as an unwillingness to spend on a governmental level: The United States currently spends more money than any nation in the history of the world.
The crisis of empathy isn’t even about an inability to walk in other people’s shoes: America is one of the most racially and religiously tolerant nations on earth.
The American crisis of empathy rests in a simple fact: America is now divided over two mutually exclusive definitions of empathy. That divide is unbridgeable, and it’s tearing the country down the middle.
One group of Americans — call them Neutrality-Driven Empaths — defines empathy as treating people as individuals capable of free choice and deserving of equality under the law. In this view, empathy manifests in respect for the capacity of other human beings, and in understanding that they make different decisions than you would. This version of empathy doesn’t require that we agree with anyone’s decisions, but that we understand that it is not our job, absent significant externalities, to rule them.
The other group of Americans — call them Emotion-Centered Empaths — believes that empathy means mirroring solidarity with subjective feelings in policy. In this view, empathy means expressing agreement with someone else’s specific feelings, refusing to assess whether those feelings are merited or justified and then shaping policy around assuaging those feelings.
Neutrality-Driven Empaths believe that politics ought to be about solutions geared toward equality of individuals before the law. Policy and emotional empathy may come into conflict in this view. Emotion-Centered Empaths believe the opposite: They believe that politics ought to be about emotional solidarity rather than finding solutions. Policy must follow emotional empathy in this view.
To take a rather stark example, consider the question of black student test performance. Neutrality-Driven Empaths will suggest that meritocratic standards are in fact the only neutral rules that can be applied to education, and that such standards have acted as a ladder for a wide variety of human beings of various races; that if a disproportionate number of black students underperform on such tests, that may merit empathy, but it doesn’t merit discarding the standards. Emotion-Centered Empaths will, in direct opposition, suggest that the mere fact of black student underperformance requires discarding testing regimes — to do otherwise would be to abandon solidarity with those who underperform, to ignore the myriad factors that undoubtedly led to the underperformance in the first place.
The battle between Neutrality-Driven Empaths and Emotion-Driven Empaths creates a massive political asymmetry. That’s because Neutrality-Driven Empaths acknowledge that while people may disagree over policy, that does not mean they are uncaring or cruel. But for Emotion-Driven Empaths, the opposite is again true: If policy is directly correlated with empathy, failure to agree represents emotional brutality and cruelty. Not only that: There can be no agreeing to disagree, because to suggest that people bear consequences for their actions is in and of itself uncaring and unempathetic. It lacks solidarity.
The empathy gap is a crisis. If you believe that empathy means treating people as individuals capable of reasoning and acting under neutral rules, we can have a society. If you believe that empathy means shaping policy around solidarity with subjective feelings, rules become kaleidoscopic, variable and fluid — and compulsion is generally necessary in order to effectuate such rules.
Empathy for people as full human beings means recognizing their agency, understanding their differences and holding fast to equality before the law. If we reject those principles in favor of a high-handed and paternalistic approach to power politics, freedom will not survive.
Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side Of History,” and “Bullies.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
In the American land of redistributed empathy and wealth, the road to hell is always paved and disguised with their so-called good intentions. We need to stop empowering political groups of self-interest and just go back to the job of raising quality human beings with the ability to INDIVIDUALLY SELF-govern, and not be governed like sheep led to the social and financial slaughterhouse. The social collective only gets empowered in the concept of SELF_government when the individuals are given the ability to govern and sustain their own lives. The rest is just a futile exercise and building collective social dependency that kills all ability for sane individual life decisions that collectively destroys the nation. It all began when we refused to recognize that hunger motivates, and satiated and fed the weak, and empowered the lazy criminal people of ill intentions who preferred to redistribute the life force of others to themselves, knowing full well their greedy inability to go out and get their own. Where there used to be few, thanks to the Democrats they are now a party of miseducated, reindoctrinated in evil legions, ready willing and now able to take that which belongs to others, up to and including our our freedom of movement, earned livelihoods, and very lives, declaring social warfare upon a trusting people of good intentions whose good American hearts and good intentions are just used as weapons of their own self-destruction. When good intentions are turned into bad results, you just know the DEVIL is in the details.
Thing is, the leftists are NOT having ‘good intentions’ with all their insane ideas…
“Emotion-Centered Empaths” are a metastatic cancer, where there is no cure. The “Emotion-Centered Empaths” are nothing more than callers for the destruction of a civilized society.
TO me, the entire lefitst ideology, is a cancer on the human race..