Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Disappointing Lack of Empathy

One of the things that has become a consideration in today's conscious is empathy, per Merriam-Webster "The feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions".
This has become very important for certain groups and social movements now:  we need to empathize with their historical experiences, see things their way, and then act accordingly.

Certainly history - even our own - is replete with really bad things (continuous breaking of treaties with Native Americans comes to mind, as does slavery in general).  That said, it has come into my mind that while this is considered an emotion of merit, it is not universally considered so.

One of the more interesting discoveries I made recently (can we designate it as an epiphany?  Maybe we shall) is that I have a heart for those that have lost their jobs.  Maybe it is rooted in my own experience, having lost my own and not knowing what the next step is.  But I realized I do.

The benefits of beneficial energy are extolled, for example, while the impact to those laid off by them is ignored.  The benefits of greater corporate responsibility and higher levels of consumer protection are extolled, but when they result in companies choosing to relocate jobs to areas of less cost and less regulation, they are ignored.

No-one argues (I think) for polluting the environment.  No-one argues for irresponsible corporations and low consumer protection.   Yet when the outcomes of these policies result in impacts - real impacts - on the lives of people, is it not true that so many of those who demand "empathy" turn away?

I am not a coal miner, nor a oil field roustabout, nor an assembler of industrial equipment.  But fellow citizens are.  When we hear of companies laying off people or businesses going under, do we react as swiftly as some do about social injustice?  Or do we look, perhaps sigh, and then think "well, there is unemployment".

(Note for those who do not know;  unemployment does not pay all that well.

Imagine being told - in a region where there may not be a great deal of options for employment - that your job is going away.  How will you pay for your family?  Your mortgage?  Will have to leave your roots and family to find something else?  I have - and it is the worst feeling in the world.

But I am fortunate.  I work in an industry where I can find work somewhere else if I have to.  But millions cannot.  Have we no empathy for them as well?

I would suspect that most, if asked, would not list government handouts as their number one desire.  Most people - not all, but most - want to work.  They want to support themselves.  They want to have the dignity and causality of meaningful work in their lives.

It disturbs me very deeply.  For if we only engaged in empathy for those causes that we support, we will soon find that that those we live with have become other than ourselves.  And if see others as other than ourselves, it becomes all too easy to despise them.

10 comments:

LindaG said...

As the socialist government puts out more and more regulations to bring equality to the workers, jobs die, as you state. I remember when there was less regulation and jobs not only paid well, but had lifetime employees, benefits like vacation, health, dental. Now they don't do that. They do what they can to get around the business killing regulation.

I don't know of many jobs that encourage people to stay until retirement any more. Let alone jobs that have a retirement plan that they offer.

We are retired and have two sons living with us. Our oldest son is still in North Carolina (where at one point, he said unemployment paid more than the job he had been let go from. Instead of trying to find a part-time job before he and his wife went to England for 3 years, he stayed on unemployment), where he does part time work at UNC Chapel Hill while trying to find a full time job. Fortunately his wife has a full time job, though not in her field of study.

I think lack of empathy can point to many problems now, such as lack of respect for other people and their property.
I don't see an easy answer, unfortunately.

Be safe and God bless.

Glen Filthie said...

Good men always find work, Toirdhealbheach. You can't get attached to a job these days. In fact I believe the days of people having meaningful careers are over. I never had a career but I've almost always had a job.
If you get emotionally invested in a job, eventually you're going to get hurt. Some sleazy managers and employers will see that and exploit it to your detriment. There is no loyalty among employers anymore, so employees have to adapt.
I cope by regarding any employer as a partner - and if he doesn't live up to my expectations - by Godfrey I will give HIM the punt and seek my future elsewhere. It has meant job-hopping on occasion, and going without on others - and it IS hard. But I saved up enough money that I can tell an unscrupulous employer where to go and how to get there - and that is freedom!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

The other impending reality, Linda, is automation. As the cost of employees goes higher automation becomes more economical. I fear the pace of job loss will only accelerate.

You are right, though I suppose I never thought about it that way before. Most companies says they value employees but few act as if they really want to keep you.

Sorry to hear about your son, If I may ask, what was his career track? I am interested because I ended up in something not at all like mine, and I worry about this very problem for my own children.

You are correct that the lack of empathy expands far beyond just my areas of concern. It is ultimately reflected in all bad behavior. And no, I have no easy answer either.

Much thanks for stopping by.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Agreed that you cannot get attached to a job these days - although I think in many cases people accidentally get attached because they feel as if they have nowhere else to go. And I, too, have learned the foolishness of investing more in my job than that of a paycheck - management will always act in the perceived best interest of the business and never for that of the employees, if it comes to it. Almost always, anyway.

I once heard an interview with Ted Nugent when they asked him about money. The money, he said, was not important. The freedom that it brought was. So maybe an equally legitimate question is How do we help more people achieve that freedom in an era of shrinking payrolls and economic malaise?

Thanks for stopping by!

LindaG said...

My son initially wanted to be a pharmacist assistant. But he didn't figure this out until he and his wife went to England. She initially was all expenses paid, but even there the economy was bad. This was about..2008, I want to say. So he started looking for part time work to fill in what the university cut out. He got a job as a shelf stocker in one of their little pharmacies, and eventually took a test - and passed - where he would have been a pharmacist assistant. But she did not get hired as a teaching assistant as she had hoped, therefore they could not stay past her 3 year... study.

Her doctorate was in some sort of liberal arts thing. Her thesis was on the relevance of graffiti in the modern world. I think she has a minor in archaeology, which she initially wanted to major in.

When they came back to North Carolina, he worked hard to get through Community College of New Bern all expenses paid, and again, worked hard and put in applications for grants to the University of Chapel Hill. Once he realized he was not remembering things like the math and chemistry required, as well as he did when he was younger, he decided he wanted to be in administration. He was in a lot of student assistant related jobs that paid the extras past his education expenses.
I need to get with him about the job he applied for this week to see if he got it. Don't know what it is.

She has a job in a warehouse and last we heard had moved into some sort of administrative position at the same warehouse business.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thank you. Wow. My story is that I got out of school with a degree in Political Science with no idea of what I would do so I went back to school and got an MA in Asian Studies. That did not pan out into anything. Did a little part time teaching at the business college level and worked at a convenience store for 3 years until my Brother in Law called and said "There is a bottle washing job (literally) at my company (Biotech firm). Interested?"

I have been in the industry now for 18 years, less a two year stint trying my own thing (Commercial Real Estate, which I have referred to as The Firm from time to time). The Real Estate detour almost broke us financially long term; we have spent the last 11 years slowly crawling out of it.

I am lucky: I am in an industry I did not train for, one I have done relatively well in - today, by any standard of measure, I could not repeat my career: without a BS in life sciences, I would have no chance at all.

I feel for your son and your wife. I can only imagine what it would be like to spend your entire school life studying for something you cannot use. I try to remind my children regularly to study or do something they can get a job in.

LindaG said...

When I was growing up, A lot of people were getting what they called Poli Sci degrees. I could not afford college, and I doubt I would have been good at it.

Congratulations on your job. Biotech is definitely a solid field.

I hope the company can continue for many successful years.

That is very good advice. Something that all kids should be told, with the hope that many would actually listen.

Be safe and God bless.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I loved political science - it combined history, geography, philosophy and economics. Unfortunately, unless you are going into law or politics, it does not really have much application in the real world.

Thanks for the good wishes. I hope so too.

One of the many things I appreciate about Mike Rowe is how he keeps trying to bring attention to the fact that college is not necessarily the job supplying panacea everyone thinks it is.

LindaG said...

Definitely agree about Mike Rowe. People have incorrectly made it that you must have a degree, and so many jobs just don't need it. Or at least not a four year one.
Have a blessed weekend.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

He posted something making the rounds a month or so ago about how only 30% of the jobs advertised required a college degree yet we have thousands of kids going deeply into debt for college. Something does not add up.