Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Science of Empathy

A controversial issue for which I have a strong opinion for is whether or not to redesign the American public school system by adding to the curriculum the subject of empathic growth for all grades K-12. This subject would focus on the development of study skills, tolerance/empathy, and emotional intelligence. My position on this matter would be in favor. This topic stirs controversy because it is challenging to the status quo, and for it’s push for psychology and the other social sciences to develop a science of empathy. I came to this opinion through listening to others speak about the issue, as well as my own dissatisfaction with the school system and the overtly egotistical character of our consumerist culture. Another contributing factor to my position, which is recent, comes from my observation of the persistence of religion, regardless of a secularized society. I pondered how could such a thing still exist. It does because religion provides roll models and ways of behaving that increase compassion; this is their hallmark: the cultivation of individuals which act with unconditional compassion toward all others, accepting them as they are. While many of the major religious institutions are known for their intolerance, comparative religious scholar Karen Armstrong has created a charter for compassion. The charter states that all religions have compassion at their core. Thus many of the negatives we see today from religion arise from individuals hijacking it for their own political or social agendas. My personal feelings on the issue run deep. I feel the solution to many of the worlds problems lies in how people see each other. This culture (what the media portrays) is filled with people out for themselves, with no regard for others that they feel are lesser then themselves, outside of weak sympathy which is not compassion. Science needs to quantify methods of increasing empathy, and formulate them into programs for students. If this approach was wrong, and empathy is not seen as a beneficial thing for everyone to develop, then I would hope for electrical technology to help people relate to each other more. However, I would not stop feeling that empathy is beneficial to society.