Does Empathy Make you a Good Person?

I recently watched an Atlantic video in which the speaker Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, argues that empathy is actually a bad thing. Paul argues that while empathy is the root that propels many people into action, he attempts to prove that the resulting actions commonly cause more harm than good.

I think Dr. Bloom’s assertions are not only misleading, but harmful. It appears that he is attempting to discourage people from developing a sense of empathy and from teaching those around us to be empathetic. If he were being really honest, Dr. Bloom would tell us that empathy isn’t the only force necessary to implement change in the world. While he may be correct that many of the actions inspired by empathy have had a negative affect on those they intended to help, I believe that is because empathy is only the beginning of change. Empathy inspires us to help others. Choosing the most beneficial actions takes a little more thought…

To really bring about change in the world, we have to educate ourselves. We have to discover the underlying causes of the pain and suffering we have seen. Only then can we implement change that really heals. Sometimes this takes trial and error. A wonderful example of how this has worked is International Justice Mission’s TED Talk, The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now. Speaker and IJM founder, Gary Haugen, shares his revelation that, although billions of dollars are given to those in poverty, these gifts have not eradicated poverty. Gary demonstrates through personal stories combined with data that the cause of poverty is violence. IJM has found a fascinating way to address global poverty, combining financial gifts with training to develop effective justice systems throughout the world. Watch his amazing presentation below.



Leave a comment:

%d bloggers like this: