The empathy-discrimination connection

2013 July 1

Would you think that the Adivasi (tribal person) who is used to a lot of hardships in his life would require less pain medication than you, the person from the sophisticated society? Please think, and find an answer before you read the rest.
If you think yes, do you think your answer would influence your decision in giving pain medication to the two people?
The article “I dont feel your pain” inĀ
argues that there is a connection between empathy and racial discrimination. Though the article seems to be about black and white races, it could well be applicable to our everyday practice in India, though we may be neither quite black nor quite white. tribal person
It certainly merits reflection. Our upbringing and our bias may influence our decisions and our behavior when we treat someone from another stratus of society with which we are not familiar. We may, with respect, say of the illiterate tribal person, “They are so hardy”, not quite recognizing that we have inadvertently referred to him or her as “they” thus branding the individual with our bias. And the result: the person gets less pain medicine. Or we may see the worried face of the member of the Royal family and say to ourselves, “They are such crybabies”.
Once that happens, we may still be compassionate, but empathy would have faded away.
2 Responses
  1. July 2, 2013

    I so totally agree with this…. We, knowingly or unknowingly, practise racism when we do not give “equal” treatment to people from different castes or socioeconomic statuses.

  2. July 3, 2013

    YUP! There IS not “they”, “them”, “those”, but only…ONLY, “US”!

    I hear all the time: “They” do not need clean water. “they” are ACCUSTOMED to the dirty river to drink, wash, and pee. “They” woldn’t now the difference”

    When I get to heaven, wonder how HIGH UP I shall have to look to see “them” sitting up on the right hand of God……

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