thoughtful comments submitted by Phillip Thornton
I was watching a show on PBS called “The Brain.” This segment was about how the brain needs to be around other brains to develop into a normal human brain. It was explaining empathy and how we have more empathy for people who are common to us either by race, religion, or political ideology.
They did an experiment where they showed a picture of a hand getting a huge needle stuck in it. The results measured how the people felt empathy for the person getting stuck with the needle. They then took the same picture and labeled it with “Muslim,” “homosexual,” “atheist,” “Christian,” and blank. Results of the tests showed we have the most empathy for the people we associate ourselves with.
Then there was another test done on elementary students. The test was this: The teacher told the students that all the kids with brown eyes were bad — they weren’t any good. And the kids with blue eyes were special. The blue-eyed kids were told not to play with the kids with brown eyes. They then told the kids with brown eyes to wear a special collar around their necks to let the other kids know they had brown eyes. The kids with blue eyes treated their friends with brown eyes really mean, one kid telling the teacher to keep the ruler by her side so she could hit the brown-eyed kids when they act up. The next day the teacher told the kids she was wrong, that the kids with blue eyes are the bad kids. So she made them wear the collar. The brown-eyed kids treated the blue-eyed kids as the blue-eyed kids had treated them. The results showed how a group can be treated differently by another group when someone with power tells them false information about a group different from them.
This is what the Nazis did to the Jews, and what the Bosnians did to the Muslims in 1995. Bosnian leaders told lies about the Muslims, even going as far as saying that the Muslims were feeding the tigers in the zoos babies of the Bosnians. This caused normally sane people to massacre over 10,000 Muslims, and to this day they are still finding bodies.
Forward to the time we are living in today. Our lives are influenced every day by what we see on the internet. Just this week I received three messages saying that their Facebook accounts were hacked, and others posted this on their walls to say the same thing. We see something on the net that one of our friends posted from something they read or told, and we automatically believe it’s the truth. We have political leaders who say something, and we believe it because it’s our party that is saying it. We believe in what we want to believe, and in so doing we can destroy relationships with family members and church members and friends. Some of these leaders say things about their opponents and their opponents supporters that are so bad and untrue that it is causing people to fight at political rallies.
We as a society need to think about what we believe before we believe it, and realize not everything on the net is real. We need to show more empathy towards our fellow Americans. Whenever we act the way we are acting we make ourselves vulnerable to attacks from other countries.
Just know this: Empathy is one character of the human being that separates us from other creatures roaming this planet.
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