General Question

mickhock's avatar

Is it possible to really care if you're not directly affected ?

Asked by mickhock (540points) September 28th, 2010

Murders, wars, sex crimes against children, all things that are abbhorrent or tragic but is it possible that deep down you really care if it’s not personal ?

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22 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Its called empathy. It is what makes us humans unique amongst other species.

wundayatta's avatar

If you don’t think it’s personal, then you don’t have a clue as to how the world works. We are all interconnected. What happens to someone else can easily happen to you next.

john65pennington's avatar

Human beings are constantly bombarded with criminal acts as observed on televison and the radio. the law of self-preservation tells us to take care of number one…..first. to me, the criminal acts are so numerous, that i have built a shield of tolerance to the bad news.

I feel i am not alone in this situation. you hear, you read it, but there is not much you can do to prevent it. as long as our immediate family is not involved, we tend to keep a deaf ear and go on with our lives. we have no other recourse.

Good question. john

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

There are different levels of caring. You can yearn for justice and genuinely want the best for people without the issue consuming your life in the way that it might for a victim.

mickhock's avatar

@wundayatta mmmh all interconnected eh ? Never looked at it that way before,so what you say is if i dont feel “interconected“then i’m clueless ?

cazzie's avatar

‘Really care…’ that’s kind of an odd expression. You either care, or you don’t. You mean, if it was happening right in front of you would you intervene? If it was happening to a stranger right in front of you, would you intervene? Hell, yeah. Strangely enough there was a program on our TV last night about this very subject.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

My sister does. She cried when the earthquake hit China, then Haiti. She cries at anything really. She often says I have no heart because I never cry at things like that.

wundayatta's avatar

@mickhock You don’t have to feel it. Nor do you have to understand it. It’s still there. But yes, anyone who thinks that what they do doesn’t affect anyone else, is missing a lot.

If you drive somewhere, the pollution from your car affects someone else’s air quality. Same with smoking. If you have an outhouse, it affects the quality of the drinking water of the person down the hill from you. If you go to the story and buy something, it affects not just the vendor, but all the employees of that vendor and the people who sell to that vendor and on and on. You can’t breathe without affecting someone else.

Some of these impacts are small, but combined with millions of other people’s actions, it adds up to something significant. If there is enough crime, it creates an atmosphere of fear. Often that fear is much bigger than the threat warrants. War is pretty obvious. It sucks people into the military that wouldn’t otherwise be there. It creates an atmosphere of anxiety. You may even know someone who knows someone who died in the war.

Some of these effects are indirect, but they are significant, and many people care because of that. Others care just because they are empathetic. Direct or indirect, it’s still personal. Of course, many people don’t perceive it that way. It’s one of the reasons we have so many problems and people are so willing to hurt each other. Sometimes these conflicts go on for thousands of years. The Middle East and surrounding areas are an example of this. And of course, what happens there also affects all the rest of us.

BoBo1946's avatar

@ChazMaz <<<<<spot on>>>>>

Trillian's avatar

Define “care”. Do you see a tragedy and feel sad for a moment then move on with your day? Do you let the feeling paralyze you? Do you cry? What does your crying accomplish? Do you take action for every tragedy you see on television?
I applaud your honesty and your questioning.
The sheer volume of unhappiness and horrible imagery with which we are bombarded leaves one little choice but to apply a layer of distancing simply to avoid being overcome.
One simply cannot “care” about everything bad that happens in the world in the sense that one tries to stop or interveing in every injustice. It is physically impossible.
So one can choose to make a difference for others in his or her own way. But to save one’s sanity, one cannot allow the suffering of the world to stop one from doing what one can, or to immobilize one.
One must build up an apparent layer of callousness simply to function. That is how we can look at the images with which we are become so saturated, comment “That’s a shame. Pass the potatoes please.” Because we still have to live our own lives, don’t we? Unless we’re ready to give away all our ties to the society in which we live and become a Cornelia Tenboom, we have kids to feed, help with homework and put to bed. We have household accounts to go over and plans to make for a trip next month.
We can care without letting ourselves be pulled under because we have to. And eventually, like with drugs, or slasher movies, we become desensetized, and numb. We care somewhere far beneath, but we can hardly get to it anymore. Because here is simply so much to care about, isn’t there?
Children being abused as we speak. Animals suffering. DIctators killing their own people. People being trapped in mines, pinned under tons of twisted metal on the highway. Kids losing parents to drugs. Parents losing kids to drugs. Or alcohol. Or reckless drivers. Natural disasters in all parts of the world. Floods, earth quakes, landslides.
We can only process so much before we reach a saturation point.
It is well done that you ask this question. Now go and try to find your humanityby focusing on one thing. One issue. If you filter out everything but one thing, you may find it easier to relocate your sense of empathy. It’s there, trust me. Your psyche has it buried as a matter of self defense, but the fact that you notice the absence indicates something positive about you.

MissA's avatar

@wundayatta and @Trillian

It does my heart good to read these comments…gives me hope for tomorrow. Thanks for making the time to post these most thoughtful thoughts.

Where IS that re-set button? The peaceful one.

stratman37's avatar

Thomas Jefferson: “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?”

mickhock's avatar

@Trillian Now thats what i call an answer. Thanks

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve never found it a problem to really care about communities that I’m not a part of – I know my privilege and work on making life better for those who don’t have what I have because I did nothing special to get my privilege and they did nothing wrong to have been marginalized.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yes. It’s one of the main reasons I need medication and therapy. If most are apathetic to the suffering of other living creatures than I am the exact opposite. The suffering of others, animals and even the plight of our planet affects me. It’s a very hard way to live.

However, in general I think you are right and people just do not want to admit it. It makes them seem callous. Trite but true—if you are not horrified you are either stupid, evil or not paying attention.

Jude's avatar

Yes. And, that’s a problem for me.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Plenty of examples. Katrina. 2004 tsunami. Apollo 13.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Yes, and Hurricane Katrina is a great example. Some friends felt compelled to help, so they rented a U-Haul, collected donations from hotels, local stores and friends and headed to Louisiana with their son. They met people along the way who provided additional donations.

When they got closer and discovered others in Alabama and Mississippi who had also been hit and were in need, the people said, “Don’t worry about us. Just keep heading west.”

RocaisDubh's avatar

Aye, I guess so.
Ive been actively involved in mountain rescue for 26 years in Scotland and had a brief full placement with an excellent high profile team in the USA. Ive seen all sorts of tragedy and accident and at all times but one it has involved folk whom I do not know. Even so, it can still bust me up when someone dies or is horribly injured. Sure, we have to get on with our job, but suffering is not an illusion, despite what the New Age Geeks say. The myth of the indestructable hero is a Hollywood fabrication with no congruence in human life.

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