By Victoria Lynn Hall
After talking to Jesse for this episode, I watched a video for a free online course I’m taking called, “Love as a Force for Social Justice“. In the video the instructor, Anne Firth Murray, and neuroendocrinology researcher and author Robert Sapolsky discussed, among other things, the difference between empathy and compassion.
Murray states that compassion goes a step beyond empathy in that it is not merely feeling someone else’s distress but actually choosing to do something about it. Sapolsky agreed and added this valuable insight:
“…from my literature there’s a remarkable dissociation between the intensity with which you feel sympathy, with which you feel empathy, and actually going and doing something to help someone. And in a remarkably clear readout you get people in a distressed empathic state about somebody else going through something painful. And the question is whether they are going to, in effect, find a way to ,”I can’t deal with this anymore”, versus actually do something. Look at their blood pressure. If their blood pressure, their heart rate, their sympathetic nervous system is aroused and going like crazy. What they’re most likely going to be thinking about is how unpleasant this is for them, and they’re going to turn the other way. If this is someone who is in effect suspiciously, dispassionately being able to recognize the reality of that person in need in addition to the froth of their own empathy. If they’re not getting swamped with really visceral responses, that’s the person who’s much more likely to be able to go and actually do something about it. In a sense that that’s the autonomic nervous system equivalent of sort of Buddhist views of you need a certain detachment, you need a certain distance. We’re very bad at intensely feeling somebody else’s distress and not kind of getting sidetracked into getting a little bit preoccupied with how distressed we’re feeling at the time.”
This made me wonder how many people refuse to see the truth of other people’s suffering simply because they don’t feel like they can handle it. That perhaps, it isn’t a lack of empathy that prevents the compassion of others but that they lack the tools to deal with the intensity of those emotions and so instead they deny, numb, internalize or project them.
This also brings home for me something I’ve thought for awhile now; that in order to avoid being propagandized and begin to see the truth about our politics, we must also constantly be seeking the truth about ourselves.
In this episode I mention that it is Assange Week. Please visit DontExtraditeAssange.com to learn more.
You can also find my interview with Assange activist, Misty Winston as well as information and resources here.
Jesse and I talked about this article by Benjamin Studebaker:
And we discussed a recent case involving Rachel Maddow which Glenn Greenwald covered in this excellent article:
I referenced the 1976 Film, Network.
I mentioned and highly suggest watching this video on the CIA by The Empire Files:
This Caitlin Johnstone piece was also discussed:
And I talked about some of my health issues which I also wrote about in this post:
Watch/listen to our full episode below or on YouTube where you can subscribe to all of our video content.
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.