Circling Back to Compassion – Important Additional Information

MumbleAfter discussing compassion as a tool for the leader’s toolbox, it was pointed out that compassion has been plasticized in modern society, and further discussion on the topic is required.  The intent here is to help provide practical steps for building a compassionate team, making compassionate people, and soliciting compassion as the prime response in customer relations.  There are some truths requiring stress to ensure a clear understanding is provided.

Compassion

The dictionary declares that compassion means “to suffer together.”  Intimating that compassionate people feel motivated to relieve suffering for they have felt the pain of suffering in another.  But, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism.  Empathy is all about taking the perspective of and feeling another person’s emotions.  The taking is dangerous, the feeling is dangerous, and combined empathy becomes all about the person’s selfishness taking and feeling, not the sufferer. Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help, taking nothing, onboarding no selfish emotional entanglements for personal gain, simply a desire to help relieve suffering. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

The focus of compassionate people is to help without personally benefiting a person or animal in pain.  Be that pain physical, emotional, mental, etc.; the focus is always on the other and on helping as able.  Interestingly, compassion is rooted deep in the brain, whereas empathy, sympathy, and altruism are not.  Compassion changes a person fundamentally for the better, whereas research supports that sympathy, empathy, and even altruistic actions do not.  Hence compassion can be a tool in a leader’s toolbox, whereas sympathy and empathy, more often than not, are useless in building people and teams.  It is clear that compassion is intentionality, a cognizant decision to act, and the purpose is always to help.  Sympathy, empathy, and altruism are unconscious emotional desires; unless the person showing these emotions is there for personal gain, deception is intentional and conscious.

  • Truth 1. It cannot be stated enough, or more strongly, emotions are a cognizant choice based upon social cues, learned social rules, and judgments to obtain a reward.  Several good references on this topic exist, but the best and easiest originates with Robert Solomon, “Not Passions Slave: Emotions and Choice.”
  • Truth 2. Emotions are active responses, not passive, and emotions do not happen to an individual sporadically or spontaneously.  Again, several good references on this topic exist, but the best and easiest originates with Robert Solomon, “Not Passions Slave: Emotions and Choice.”

Where compassion is concerned, especially the conscious use of compassion as a leadership tool, the leader must become aware of emotions’ role and social influence and be better prepared to improve people and build cohesion in teams.  Because of compassions intentionality to render help to others, understanding how emotions are a choice and why is like putting glasses on to clarify what is happening, why, and how to duplicate or eradicate the emotional influence.  Thus, the need to emphasize these two truths, even though they are similar, are distinct and need complete understanding to best position the leader in building people.Knowledge Check!

Plastic Words – Tyranny in Language!

  • Truth 3. Uwe Poerksen, “Plastic Words: The Tyranny of Modular Language,” remains an excellent source and cautionary tale on what we are experiencing in modern society where words are captured, bent, disconnected from common definitions, and then plasticized to stretch into what that word is not intended to be used for.  There are a host of plastic words, phrases, and entire twisted languages dedicated to exerting tyranny through communication using plastic words.

Consider the following, culled from APA’s junior website, “Psychology Today.”  Please note, the article linked is the author’s personal opinion; however, for understanding the plasticity in compassion found in modern language, a better example is difficult to find.  The author insists that compassion requires using both sympathy and empathy to be compassionate.  As discussed above, sympathy and empathy should not describe or define compassion. While the words are similar, the conscious intentionality of compassion means sympathy and empathy are not, and should not, be included with compassion.

Yet, the author still provides clear guidance on compassion, insisting that compassion be ruled with logic and wisdom.  Please note, showing compassion does not mean the compassionate person needs to go into debt, sacrifice themselves, or invest to the point of exhaustion in another person.  Logic and wisdom dictate that you are not less compassionate when you govern compassion with temperance, but the reverse.  A critical point of knowledge stumbled upon while trying to plasticize compassion as sympathy or empathy; compassion requires logic and wisdom, temperance, and judgment, all conscious, active, and involved decisions to be the most effective in building people.

Finally, compassion is a two-directional mode of building people.  Both parties in a compassionate relationship are choosing consciously to engage in compassion.  Hence, both will share in the consequences; sympathy and empathy are all one-directional from the giver to the receiver, with no reciprocation.  Thus, stretching compassion to include sympathy and empathy, or even altruism, disconnects the fundamental ties of compassion from logic, and chaos ensues; where chaos exists, tyranny occurs!

Using Compassion – Focusing Upon Potential

Opportunity is potential; potential is triumph waiting for an effort to be applied.” – Dave Salisbury

The above sentiment is one of my favorite truths because of what Mumble’s Dad Memphis said in Happy Feet, “The word triumph begins with try and it ends with a great big UMPH!”  What does the informed leader do to build people?  They recognize potential, both strengths and weaknesses, as a means to grow in themselves and others.  Compassion enters when an event occurs as the emotion of connecting and building relationships.  An analogy, compassion, could be compared to the mortar used in laying bricks.  Each person and event are bricks, and by using compassion, the bricks are organized into a wall of strength.  What is the potential of a single brick in a pile; hard to say.  Organize them with compassion, and the potential becomes visible to all.

Practical Activities for Building Compassion

The following are helpful suggestions for building compassion in yourself and others.

    1. Show genuine emotion; if you’re happy, smile! If you’re struggling, let people know.  Our society has been built upon hiding what has been going on for too long.  People begin a conversation with, “How are you doing?”  The expected answer is “fine,” good,” “okay,” etc. yet, when you know how you’re doing, these answers just spread lies.  Are you building an environment where people can be honest about how they are doing?
    2. Compliments are a big part of showing compassion. Yet, too often, we cannot compliment each other without problems of sexual harassment.  The giving and accepting of compliments build trust and comfort between people.  Open the environment for giving and receiving compliments.
    3. Praise and expressions of gratitude cannot be understated as needed tools for building people. Research supports that honest, sincere, and frequent praise is better than cash for brain health and motivation.  Again, open the environment for issuing praise and gratitude.
    4. Employ reflective listening; reflective listening is listening to understand the speaker and build a two-directional solution. Active listening is easily faked; the other listening methods do not include listening, hence the need for reflective listening.
    5. Curiosity reflects a genuine interest in someone else. Ask the other person’s interests, find common ground, and build from there.  Do not forget to share.  For example, what books have you read recently?  Got a hobby, share new skills.
    6. Invest time! You cannot build compassion without investing time in yourself and with your team!  Take the time, invest the time, and employ patience.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Build People – Compassion, a Tool For The Leadership Toolbox

A Theory About CompassionSympathy and empathy remain emotions quite dangerous, and I will include a caution to avoid these emotional entanglements.  Yet, in discussing sympathy and empathy, a question was raised regarding compassion, and I would speak to this tool.  Please note that sympathy and empathy are not compassion, and understanding the difference remains fundamental to using compassion correctly to build people.

Compassion

The dictionary declares that compassion means “to suffer together.”  Intimating that compassionate people feel motivated to relieve suffering for they have felt the pain of suffering in another.  But, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism.  Empathy is all about taking the perspective of and feeling another person’s emotions.  The taking is dangerous, the feeling is dangerous, and combined empathy becomes all about the selfishness of the person taking and feeling, not the sufferer. Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help, taking nothing, onboarding no selfish emotional entanglements for personal gain, simply a desire to help relieve suffering. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

[Evolutionary roots for compassion] – Check this video out!  Well worth your time!

The focus of compassionate people is to help without benefiting personally a person or animal in pain.  Be that pain physical, emotional, mental, etc.; the focus is always on the other and on helping as able.  Interestingly, compassion is rooted deep in the brain, whereas empathy, sympathy, and altruism are not.  Compassion changes a person fundamentally for the better, whereas research supports that sympathy, empathy, and even altruistic actions do not.  Hence compassion can be a tool in a leader’s toolbox, whereas sympathy and empathy are more often than not useless in situations.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

Compassion does not just happen. Pity does, but compassion is not pity. It’s not a feeling. Compassion is a viewpoint, a way of life, a perspective, a habit that becomes a discipline – and more than anything else.  Compassion is a choice we make that love is more important than comfort or convenience.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

It is clear that compassion is intentionality, a cognizant decision to act, and the purpose is always to help.  Sympathy, empathy, and altruism are simply unconscious emotional desires; unless the person showing these emotions is there for personal gain, for deception is intentional and conscious.

Please note, I am not delving into the various types of compassion.  Other researchers have done this, and frankly, I feel like Mark Twain’s quote has come to life, “We have studied something so much, we now know nothing about it.”  If you want a resource for diving deeper into compassion, check out Dr. Paul Eckman’s “Emotional Awareness” as a launch point.  Be advised, emotions are a choice made consciously, and too many researchers refuse this belief.  Passive emotional beliefs rob us of fundamental power and abilities for being human.

“Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Compassion as a Tool

Leadership, as a job, contains equal parts of teaching and exemplifying.  Compassion for self is observable through the words and actions of a leader.  Do you insult yourself by calling yourself “stupid,” “ignorant,” etc.?  If so, your followers will automatically presume you will do the same to them.  The tool compassion begins with relieving internal suffering, and compassion for others is nothing but an extension of compassion for self applied through action.

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” – Pema Chodron

It is a lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.” – Anonymous

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” – Dalai Lama

Consider the teacher you admire most; did they show compassion?  I guarantee they did, and their compassion is one of the most significant reasons you hail them so highly.  Compassion is not a weakness but, in fact, a strength and a motivating reason to be a better leader.  Through compassion, we train ourselves to become more tolerant of our own faults and then extend this kindness to others.

Leaders ask yourself:

    1. When was the last time you showed compassion to yourself?
    2. How much compassion do you practice daily, first on yourself, then upon your followers? – Inherent to note, you cannot be critical of yourself and compassionate to others. Compassion cannot be faked; treat yourself better.
    3. Do you build compassion and promote compassion? How often?
    4. What motivates you to develop and encourage compassion?

Using Compassion as a leader

Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.” Elizabeth Lesser

When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.” – Kristin Neff

Compassion is so often the solution.” – Anonymous

Aesop has a fable about a lion with a thorn in his foot, removed by a shepherd.  M*A*S*H 4077th related this story with Aesop’s shepherd being Androcles, a Christian who was to be fed to the lions, but the lion remembering the kindness, refused to eat.  Other variations of this story exist, but the moral always comes back to support the truth, “Compassion is so often the solution” Anonymous.

In fourth grade, my second trip through this grade, I had the great privilege of witnessing the power of compassion by a principal.  The principal (Miss Murphy) told me a story of her youth where she had been a crossing guard and abused her power one day.  The child complained, and the following day her school principal called her in, but instead of punishing her, he offered praise, sincere, appropriate, and heartfelt praise.  Miss Murphy could see the complaint on the desk of her principal, knowing she should be getting punished, but instead, the compassion of the principal changed her life.  I was a third-generation extension of this principal’s compassion, through Miss Murphy, who knew I was busted for the umpteenth time, should have been expelled from school, and punished severely.  Yet, Miss Murphy had witnessed good and used this moment to express praise for the good witnessed.

NO FearI have tried not to let Miss Murphy’s compassion end with me and pass along her lesson often.  Compassion and praise remain instrumental tools in every leader’s toolbox.  Do not fear using these tools frequently, for then you also will change a life, even if that life is only your own.  I am a better person because others have provided me compassion; pass it along!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

What is Compassion? – Chapter Three in the Emotional Chronicles

Bobblehead DollI admit October has been a hit-and-miss month, and I apologize.  I am not sure why, but I recommit to doing a better job.  Thank you for your patience, dear reader.  Though I haven’t been sitting on my thumbs, I was invited to speak at a disability event and have been furiously writing for that.  I speak on 27 October 2021 at 0600 EST.  While the event is not open to the public, I plan to post my comments online after the event, suitably altered to hide the event and employer for contractual reasons.

Due mainly to the method of my upbringing, I struggle with conceptualizing terms like love, charity, compassion, feelings, and emotions.  I fully understand anger, hate, and rage, but the rest I am a pure novice at best, and at worst, wholly ignorant.  I read the texts, studied the books, watched films and lectures, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, and much more.  My wife is very patient with me on this topic; my friends tend to tease me gently when they trip across my ignorance on a topic.  My enemies know my shortcomings well but cannot use emotions to thwart me, for emotions just don’t work on me.Angry Grizzly Bear

However, I am not a natural people person.  I see someone crying, and I have no clue what to do if there is no visible injury.  I know problem resolution, crisis management and can act well in all types of situations, but when it comes to soft skills and “playing well with others,” guess what subject I have consistently failed?  Believe me; I have the K-12 report cards to prove my inability, as well as many a note sent home!

What is Compassion?

When the gushy parts in movies come along, I line up for the popcorn and soda machines.  I know I am not alone; sometimes, there must be 20 other people, not just men, standing out there making purchases and visiting the bathrooms.  I know I am a people watcher, so I can deduce there are more people than I who struggle with this concept.  Let’s discuss; maybe we can learn something and not be so uncomfortable.

I find the etymology of a word tends to bring enlightenment; the definition of compassion includes the following gem, deep awareness of other people’s suffering accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  “Eyes that see and a heart that feels” is a saying the comes to mind to describe compassion as a noun.  However, as a verb, compassion means to pity, and pity as a verb is to reflect regret, sympathy, or sorrow with another person.  A word of warning, sympathy is very closely related to and often concealed by empathy. Where one is only dangerous to oneself when taken to extremes, the other is dangerous to all whenever practiced.

What is Empathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyEmpathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the conscious emotional choices is given to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway is journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is a most dangerous emotional tool, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people in my travels who were so sympathetic with another person that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Historical Etymology of Compassion

The following is quoted from the Online Etymological Dictionary to satisfy my inner nerd and explore the etymology further, and the link is provided above.  Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia.  Sometimes in Middle English, it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another.  An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.  “Com” word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom– “besides, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.  “Passion” c. 1200, “the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ,” from Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from the past-participle stem of Latin pati “to endure, undergo, experience,” a word of uncertain origin. The notion is “that which must be endured.”

Wwwe-Buddhism Com if Your Compassion Does Not Include ...To the atheists, just because Jesus Christ is mentioned does not make something a religious discussion.  I find it interesting that passion, passio, is directly related to enduring and suffering of physical experiences of Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that a compassionate person is reflecting attributes of Jesus Christ?  If so, does this mean mortal beings can acquire godly attributes and still be mortals?  If not, to what should mortals aspire?

Along the vein of etymology, feeding my inner nerd, and discovering insight into compassion, I went looking for actions that reflect compassion, adjectives describing compassion.  The foremost adjective for compassion is compassionate; how very intriguing.  You look for concrete ways to act in a manner of compassion, and you are told to be compassionate; doesn’t this form a logic circle and a paradox?COMPASSION Is My STRENGTH Not a Sign of Weakness Dr Ronnie ...

Remember, a paradox includes two seemingly opposite points, which are opposites on the first reflection but, on further consideration, are more closely related than opposing.  In considering compassion and compassionate, we find the etymology important to understanding the relationship, physical suffering endured and experienced for others, or on another’s behalf.  According to the New Testament and other religious texts, we find this is the recorded mission of Jesus Christ.  IN the definition of compassion, we find mortals can possess a deep awareness of other people’s suffering and choose to have the awareness be accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  But, what if the person with the awareness and desire does not have the ability; what do they do?  Are they less compassionate?  Do they somehow become reduced, heartless, uncaring, or judged for not giving when they do not have?

The answers from the different religions are fascinating on this topic, and if you belong to an organized religion, please feel free to discuss this topic with your Rabbi, Minister, Father, Preacher, Bishop, etc., Atheists, feel free to discuss this topic below and with your friends.  Those in less organized and non-standard religions do what I do, the absolute best you can, and leave the rest in the hands of people more capable.

Compassion Article and Quotes - Funny Stuff, Inspirational ...However, we still return to the core root of compassion; what is it?  From this point forward, I am going to express my limited knowledge and informed opinion.  I could be as wrong eating yellow snow in January, but here goes.

Compassion is being cognizant of the people around you.  See someone with their arms full; rush to open a door.  Offer a hand; better still, find a cart and help them fill the cart.  It’s raining, hold an umbrella—Pet a dog.  Sit down beside a stranger and listen.  See a puddle while driving, slow down, and drive throw without splashing the bus stop where someone is waiting for a bus.  See a sign asking for help, give without judgment; does it really matter what they will do with your contribution?  Say please.  Say thank you!  Say you’re welcome.  Manners matter.Compassion is the path... | Favorite movie quotes, Star ...

Modesty in speech, clothing, and behavior matters.  A friend of mine was fond of the following, saying, “Everyone can do something.  Pitch in!”  As a disabled person, I miss being part of that mentality.  I miss being able to “pitch in.”  Society tells me to stay away, we do not need you, “You’re disabled.”  See someone left out; find a way to include them.

If you question why you are doing something, keep doing it until the questions go away.  Never fear a question; fear not acting on something you feel is the right thing to do.  Want to see society change?  Start the change you want to see by exemplifying that change.  I am still not totally sure what compassion is; I know I want to help people.  I know my resources are limited, but my desire is great.  Let’s do something compassionate; if I understand compassion properly, let’s encourage one person today.  Even if that person is just you, be more encouraging to others.  Society needs more encouragement, needs more smiles, needs more humanity.

Father Mulcahy 2By the way, did you catch the news?  A huge cheese factory explosion occurred in France; da Brie is everywhere.  A large multinational response is underway.  The Kaiser is rolling Hamburgers, and the Danes sent fresh pastries.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Indifference

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyMilitary commanders are taught there are two great sins in planning operations; one is waiting, and predictability and the other is indifference.  Today, business leaders are instructed well by academics about the problems with waiting to make a decision, failing to act, and the costs of blown opportunities from taking too long to make a decision.  But few have ever considered the costs of indifference.  I intend to close this gap in education, using some recent examples and some history to reflect why indifference is a corrosive acid on the souls of men.

Indifference

Indifference is all about a lack of interest, not having or showing concern, and refusing sympathy.  Webster has also referred to indifference as unimportant.  When discussing the sympathetic aspects of indifference, please remember, sympathy is part of the emotions of ruination.  Many people continue to become lost in showing empathy and sympathy when choosing not to emote or become involved in the feelings of others is a better course of action.  Lacking sympathy might not be a terrible thing in a particular circumstance and does not reflect indifference.

What is the distinction between choosing not to emote and indifference?

Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and ChoiceLet’s take Robert Solomon’s position that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a social event. Indifference is not distinguishable from other emotions and remains a choice, a judgment, or a social event.  Except one is not left trying to distinguish between indifference as emotion and indifference as lacking interest or caring.  More to the point, if indifference was simply an emotion to choose, then indifference is apathy, and apathy is another emotion on the path to ruination.

Hence, there must be more to the concept of indifference to make the separation between indifference as emotion and indifference as an action.  Let us pause here for a moment mentally and keep one principle firmly in mind, indifference, or the activities that reflect indifference, are a choice, a decision, and judgment about the social situation.  Choices have natural consequences that cannot be escaped.  The consequences of choosing indifference cannot always be controlled or directly understood as lines of congruence from the choice of indifference to the consequences of indifference.  These principles remain valid for all emotional choices expressed by humans.  Worse, the valuation of the consequences can vary wildly from person to person, creating additional consequences that snowball into major social events quickly.

Emtional Investment CycleSolomon makes a classic point in tying indifference to defensive mechanisms used in choosing emotional interactions for social situations.  Indifference can reflect envy, resentment, hate, disdain, and the “opposite” of these emotions: love and respect—indifference embodying the individual’s psyche through emotional choices.  When angry, frustrated, or time-pressured, how many times has the words “I don’t care” slipped out as the position when at another time the decision would not have been indifferent?  Is the defensive aspect clear?

Please note, when using the term opposite, I am trying to be easily understood.  The problem when discussing emotions is that there are no clear-cut opposites to emotions.  For example, the opposite of light is dark; but light shades include darkness to set emotional states or moods.  Opposite always depends upon the context, e.g., the social situation of human interactions.  Another aspect of emotions is the transformation from one to another, the speed of transformation, and the social context forcing a change.  Thus, making distinctions between emotions remains ambiguous and always will depend upon context and the social environment.Apathy

Finally, please remember that positive and negative are valuations of consequences, not emotional choices.  The emotional choice will have consequences, and the social situation, the judgment, and the choice will be reflected in the consequences experienced.  The emotion itself cannot be judged without the consequences, and the valuation of the consequences is deeply personal.  Hence trying to characterize an emotion is simpleminded and detrimental to all aspects of emotional valuation.  The emotion cannot be evaluated or valued, but the consequences from that emotional choice must be considered and given value.  Does this make sense?

People seeking to control social situations employ emotional sophistry to plasticize the emotion and the consequence into weapons to force those they select to either come closer or move further away.  Where indifference is concerned, the aspects of defense remain the most influential aspect of emotional choices leading to action.  The cost and constraint of emotion are all found in the consequences of that emotional choice and social environment.  Defense mechanisms work to protect, but as the axiom goes, a good defense is supported by a good offense.  The best defensive drivers drive offensively and defensively, balancing the offense and defense to protect themselves, as a continuous string of decisions while driving.Plato 3

I realize this was a long explanation, but understanding the consequences of choosing to emote, choosing to be indifferent as a defensive position, and employing other emotions in social environments to judge others, are all connected emotionally speaking.  Remaining interconnected and the failure to describe these relationships does not produce the understanding for evaluating the situations around us properly.  Let me be clear, the difference between choosing to emote and indifference is the defensive aspect of indifference when applied to a social situation.

Indifference in Action

Consider the teenager who, when given a choice, screams, “I don’t care.”  When they calm down, who will care a great deal but are stuck inside their choice and consequence cycle because they chose to defend when they needed a different emotional response to a particular situation?  My wife, when we got married, discussed how to decorate the home.  I decided that the home looks and the decorations making a house a home were beyond my purview, realizing I have no taste in furnishings and am happy with bare essentials.  This decision has aggravated and grated on my wife for our entire marriage (20+ years), but I refuse to budge.Plato 2

I am not indifferent to what the house looks like, but I have no interest in the minutia of decorations and decorating.  Hence, my simplicity is not indifference, as my wife has judged, but a recognition that there are more important aspects to life than choosing colors and styles of curtains, where furniture goes, or how to light a room.  My consequence has been that sometimes I might not like her ideas but live with them due to the consequences of my choice to stay out of decorating decisions entirely.  I have also had to move furniture I did not particularly like because she prefers a style and shape.  My decision has also led to a host of other consequences.  Since I refuse to budge on helping to decorate, I remain indifferent to how the house looks and push all credit onto her while accepting the blame for anything out of place or undesired in her home.

WhyPublic examples of indifference abound; one of the most obvious was the Beer Summit.  President Obama’s indifference to police officers during the Henry Louis Gates arrest debacle in July 2009 reflected poorly in a socially political aspect for all his faults and all his other decisions.  Thus the “Beer Summit” was held to improve the appearances of indifference towards police by the sitting US President.  Except, the “Beer Summit” was as empty as the calories of the beer consumed for the next time a police controversy arose, the sitting US President went out of his way to blame police before all the facts were known.  Leading to the question, what is President Obama defending by showing indifference to police officers?

Another aspect of indifference has been the Federal Response to individual states legalizing cannabis, a trend that took off under President Obama.  The executive in charge, the sitting US President, reflected indifference towards states broadening the “state-approved legal” use of cannabis.  Was the sitting president indifferent due to a defensive position due to his history of drug use?  Are the stories true that President Obama smoked cannabis in the White House?  Is there a connection between indifference showed by the US President and the rise of states legalizing cannabis?

Question 3President Trump was criticized for caring too much about war zones and problems outside the United States, while the infrastructure crumbled and the poor suffered.  President Obama was criticized for his refusals to enforce “Red Lines” being crossed with impunity and where internationally illegal weapons of mass destruction were employed.  Which one was a reflection of indifference?  Why?  I am not getting into political discussions here; the topic is indifference, and recognizing indifference and the consequence from indifferent actions remains crucial to improving decision-making.  Both presidents inherited situations where American Troops were in harm’s way, and these troop conditions rightly took priority in decision-making short and long-term.  Yet, which president was indifferent?  Why?  Does indifference change solely because of political leanings?  Why?

President Biden was criticized for being indifferent to National Guard Troops sleeping in parking garages during his ascension and confirmation as US President in January and February 2021.  When the political appearances could no longer be sidestepped, token measures were taken to improve troop comforts.  What is President Biden defending where US Troops in the US Capitol are concerned?

Knowledge Check!Indifference surrounds us in every social situation, every day.  Do we understand the role indifference is currently playing in obstructing development, hampering growth, and destroying lives?  Since Feb. 2020, the globe has witnessed governments running away with stealing freedoms and liberties from the citizenry, issuing mandates and restrictions without due process, all because of a “health emergency.”  The indifference to science by the politicians stealing liberty has been deafening.  The indifference to the citizenry and the judiciary has also been deafening.  To fight indifference, we must first understand what we are witnessing and then address that indifference at the source.  We must realize our own indifference and determine why before we can begin to understand the larger applications of indifference and force change.

Reference

Solomon, R. C. (2007). Not passion’s slave: Emotions and choice [Kindle 6]. Buy your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Passions-Slave-Emotions-Passionate/dp/0195179781

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Apathy, Empathy, and Sympathy – Chapter 2

Never Give Up!It never seems to change; the powers that think they run the world want everyone drinking the Kool-Aid of emotional entanglement.  August 2020, I wrote the first chapter on apathy, empathy, and sympathy; unfortunately, the events of this past week have shown that a return to this topic is both necessary and urgently needed.  What worries me is that too many still feel they must share emotions to prove their care towards something or someone else, an idea that is 100% false!

What is Apathy?

ApathyApathy is all about a lack of enthused concern.  Being apathetic is a choice to show no concern, emotional connection to an issue, or interest.  The choice to be apathetic is personal and does not indicate that a person is heartless; simply that the person being apathetic is making different choices where emotion is concerned on a topic.  Choosing a different emotional response to a situation is a good thing and reflects intelligence in understanding emotional pitfalls and emotional problems leading to problems and chaos.

What is Empathy?

Empathy v ApathyEmpathy, of all the emotional pitfalls, empathy is the most devious of this list’s emotional responses.  Empathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions, and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the cognizant emotional choices is given away to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathySympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is the most dangerous of the emotional tools on this list, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people who were so sympathetic with another person in my travels that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Examples of runaway emotional hysteria.

Detective 4The 800#-Gorilla in the news is COVID-19; the corporate media is using sympathy and empathy to garner support for the government to continue the lockdowns, the mask mandates, the economic decline, and to refuse and refute those governors in the U.S. who want to return to business as usual pre-COVID.  Sympathy for the dead, empathy for the families left behind, sympathy for those in hospitals, empathy for those first responders struggling with COVID cases, and so much more.  The logic is never equal to the emotional marionette strings, and heaven forbid someone approaches the media with facts.  Want more proof that the media is only interested in the emotional gamesmanship of sympathy and empathy; look to historical records of Ebola in the US, Swine-flu, Avian-Flu, SARS, MERS, annual flu outbreaks, and other viral outbreaks.  You will find headlines blaring a need to sympathize, empathize, and emote in a specified manner, or you are considered heartless, uncaring, and a host of -isms that make no sense, except to those demanding an emotional response.

Consider the “influencer culture” that has gripped the world for more than two decades as social media has swept the world.  In case you missed the definition of “influencer culture,” it is all about people with above-average influence on an audience.  The best influencers have built their reputation online for being an expert in some particular niche or are cashing in on their popularity through sports, politics, or Hollywood. They are similar to key opinion leaders but usually have gained their reputation more informally through their online activity.  Consider the emotional diatribes regarding Lady Gaga’s dogs being stolen.  Heck, I don’t even know who or what a “Lady Gaga” is, but I know a dog theft is not that big a news item.  Yet, how many days has your newsfeed been filled with this story?  Worse, BBC and Time have run follow-on stories about dog thefts and tried to raise “public awareness” of a problem, demanding empathy and sympathy from the audience due to influencer culture.

Baby Blues - Good AnswerI saw a headline in my newsfeed that had me laughing, “What the U.S. owes Iran?” authored by Ryan Cooper.  My answer was first a low-yield nuclear bomb, at about 150’-agl, and a smile!  My second answer is not fit to print.  My third and fourth answers were similar, but to have the author advocating for the fraudulent President Biden to “budge first” was an absolute farce!  Still, even on this topic, the author begs the audience to have sympathy and empathy for Iran’s citizens and political structure before America and the rest of the world, who have been victims of Iran’s tyranny and terrorism over the last several decades.  Is the pattern clear; when emotions of empathy and sympathy override common-sense and logic, control of the audience is no longer individually held but collectively controlled.

ParadoxMy newsfeed has been clogged by some spoiled brats who fled a palace in the United Kingdom for fame and fortune in America and some stupid interview with Oprah.  Beyond that, I have no clue what their pampered beef is and could care less.  Yet, this entire week has been filled with demands from the crown for sympathy and empathy, cries for sympathy, and empathy for the runaway pampered couple in California.  As well as cries for Oprah who is not a big enough girl to stand criticizing memes and people who use her as a meme are “digital blackfacing.”  Digital blackfacing, what a plastic term of useless indignation which is masquerading as a call for sympathy and empathy.

How do people move forward?

The following are suggestions; I employ them for my own sanity.  I make my own choices and live with the consequences, and I urge you to consider the same:

      1. Restrict the media flow into your life. I do not watch TV, listen to the radio, or allow any specific corporate media channel to infest my digital devices or computer.  I have five specific news provider applications, but it has taken a lot of time and effort to stop being a news junkie!Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and Choice
      2. Robert Solomon wrote, “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice.” Make some time to read this book.  I am not saying everyone has to follow everything Solomon claims; I am saying that being more informed about the role of emotions and conscious choices is empowering, sanctioning, and liberating.Emtional Investment Cycle
      3. Are you aware of your emotional investments? I have two people I respect, but they hold opposing views and emotional investments.  Both have grown children, but one allows their children space to act as independent agents.  The other tries to be a helicopter parent for the kids who now have kids.  Worse, the helicopter parent cannot catch the hint that the kids do not want anything to do with their parent.  The helicopter parent is so emotionally involved that they have physical health problems from the emotional wasteland’s stress and anxiety between the kids and the parent.  Thus, I ask, do you know where your emotional investments are?  What is your return on investment for emotionally investing?

Image - Eagle & FlagI promise as you review and reduce your emotional investments, you will experience a feeling of liberation like you have never known before.  Stress levels drop, time becomes available for other activities, and a more conscious choice of emotional investing makes you a better person to be around.  Stop giving away your emotional liberty to those who would control and destroy you, be they children, friends, employment, media, politics, etc.; you can be free of emotional chains.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Apathy, Empathy, and Sympathy: The Emotions of Ruination

Of all the titles I have been branded as a professional, one that holds the most truth is that I am heartless.  I do not share your emotional choices; thus, to you, I am heartless, and I will not invest my time to dissuade you otherwise.  Emotional outbursts have somehow become popular, and it is my intent to reduce the amount of emotional blather found in the workplace, as an extension of real emotional intelligence.

Empathy v ApathyApathy is all about a lack of enthused concern.  Being apathetic is a choice to show no concern, emotional connection to an issue, or interest.  The choice to be apathetic is personal and does not indicate that a person is heartless; simply, that the person being apathetic is making different choices where emotion is concerned on a topic.

Empathy, of all the emotional pitfalls empathy, is the most devious of the emotional tools on this list.  Empathy is all about acting like you understand the emotions of another person, and you have a personal desire to share in those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in an attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern, justifying the emoter’s emotional responses.

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling.  The emotional pathway journeyed by people or groups, to feel the same sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.  Sympathy is the most dangerous of the emotional tools on this list, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sorrow or experiencing misfortune.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame, or lemmings to a cliff.

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyHere is the problem with all three emotional tools above, they are emotional responses to external situations.  Jean-Paul Sartre is quoted thus:

For the idea which I have never ceased to develop is that in the end one is always responsible for what is made of one.  Even if one can do nothing else besides assume this responsibility.”

Robert Solomon made Sartre’s quote above more meaningful when a person considers that, “Emotions involve social narratives as well as physical responses, and an analysis of emotions is an account of our being-in-the-world.”  The freedom to “make of one” does not include showing no emotion, nor does it mean that one must partake of every emotional current that swirls and eddies around a person during a typical day.  Solomon continued by empathetically stating, and supporting that, “Emotions are not occurrences and do not happen to us… emotions are rational and purposive rather than irrational and disruptive, are very much like actions, and that we choose an emotion as we choose a course of action” [Emphasis mine].

Therein is the crux of the entire argument, the summum bonum (the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system) if you will where apathy, empathy, and sympathy are concerned; emotions are as easily selected.  Emotions are as purposefully chosen as the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and every other course of action undertaken.  Emotional selection is always cognitive, and represents a system of beliefs and personal desires, which includes appetites, hopes, expectations of reward, behavioral standard programming, and has as a core an object to emote about.

Girls ListeningConsider the announcement that someone’s cat has died.  What does society say one should do in this situation; take visual cues and match the emotions of the person whose cat died to the environmental situation, and respond in a similar manner.  Feel sad the cat died; why it was not your cat that died.  What if the owner is feeling relief because the cat had suffered from health or physical defects; do we still emote sadness?  What if the owner inherited the cat and is relieved they never have to clean the cat box again, step in wet hairballs, or take as much allergy medicine; do we emote sadness when the owner emotes joy?  Thus, one can more easily see, and understand that emotions are a choice, and empathy and sympathy are emotional traps.

Carrying the dead cat analogy one step further, what if the owner is only reporting their cat died to gain attention?  Emotional responses from others in the social environment feed the control this person now has over the group.  If the cat owner reporting a cat has died uses the situation to get out of mundane tasks, is this acceptable, warranted, or allowed; if so, the control through emotional responses is complete, and the behavior will repeat.  Hence the danger and deviousness of empathy and sympathy as emotional tools in social settings.  Solomon reports on this topic that the cognitive nature of emotions allows for pride to remain intact.  Thus, we conclude that emotions are formed around beliefs and judgments, just like the atomic particle must have neutrons, protons, and electrons.

By comparing emotional creation to the atomic particle, it is not reducing the human emotion to a mathematical formula, nor does it demean any true emotional response to a situation.  The comparison is simply acknowledging the complex nature and elements that are required when the emotion is selected.

Pride 2Pride, is an interesting element of emotional response and centers around self-elevation and enmity (being actively opposed or hostile to someone). The proud person will say, I am better than someone else and be violently opposed to any influencers who are perceived to threaten the superiority of the person emoting pride.  The proud person will always use emotions as a tool for controlling others, which is one of the most compelling arguments against the current business fad, emotional intelligence.  Pride, with its underlying core of enmity, is the root of the common conception of, and popularity for, emotional intelligence. Real emotional intelligence recognizes the cognitive, judgmental, and social aspects of emotions, and works to control oneself.

My best friend has no appreciation for jokes, puns, wordplay, etc.; in fact, my best friend has such an interesting sense of humor, one can often ask why they laughed and receive a logical and cognitively reasoned response.  Yet, my best friend has never been called heartless, unemotional, or the reverse emotional, apathetic, empathetic, or sympathetic.  People interact with my friend and always leave knowing they were listened to, cared for, and appreciated for the good they perform in the world.  My friend has spoken with governors and politicians, homeless people, the sick and afflicted, the whole and happy, and all are treated equally.  How does my friend do this; buy not taking the easy road of emotional connection, but forming a truer relationship through logic, as a cognitive choice.

CourageConsider the anger people chose over the death of Rayshard Brooks earlier this year in Georgia.  Many people chose to be angry and then expressed that anger in burning down a Wendy’s restaurant franchise, rioting, lootings, clogging traffic, stopping commerce, and other actions considered acceptable expressions of anger by the media who reported the events.

In no specific order, the following must be recognized in the Rayshard Brooks event.  First, the expressions of anger were chosen and were considered acceptable by a third party in a social environment.  Second, the actions (visible signs of anger) were an outward display of an inner emotion that was also chosen cognitively as a response to a situation (Rayshard Brooks being shot).  Third, the third-party involved, the media, expected to see these types of actions to justify their time in reporting the incident.  By being a vocal third-party, cheerleaders, if you will, the third-party fed the expected response.  This accelerated and expanded the violence and other deprivations, the same as what occurs in any sports contest where fans are invited to watch and participate vicariously through cheering their team on.

The problem with using my friend’s pattern of living, where the same anger could have been communicated but without all the violence, looting, theft, destruction of private property, and a better community would have ensued, is that of control.  The media would not have reported this event because they could not be a vocal and invested third-party feeding the emotional actions and receiving a return on their investment of time and other resources.  Thus, added to the emotional atomic particle analogy, are the elements of social acceptance, social expectation, and a vocal third-party to justify the actions taken in the name of the emotion granting those actions acceptability.

On a smaller, and thus more socially acceptable scale, the same can be witnessed every day, where the justification for emotional responses, is granted by a third-party expressing sympathy or empathy for those emoting.  Leading to a question, what does the third-party gain from justifying another person’s emotional responses; the power to control.  The emoting person will return to the third-party for justification after each emotional outburst for approval until the third-party deems the actions are no longer acceptable at that given period.

Emotional OutburstFurther emotional outbursts and increased levels of emotional criminology might occur later.  Still, at the moment, those actions have reached the limit of justification and the emoter will choose differently to gain favor and approval from the third-party.  As witnessed in the Missouri riots that spawned the political group “Black Lives Matter (BLM).”  Further, the third-party that controls the justification can turn-on and turn-off those emoting at will, by telling them how they should be responding to a given situation.  The third-party possesses considerable power through the justification of emotional outbursts, the same influence as exerted by an owner or a league over a sports team.

Thus, the paths and dangers of emotion.  Hence one can see the connections between emotions as a choice, a judgment, and a tool.  The sword of emotions is more dangerous to the wielder than to those affected by the emotional outburst, for those wielding emotions are never free of the control-justification cycle, and will remain subservient until they individually cognitively choose different emotions and emotional responses to social situations.

The danger in America right now is that of a vocal and invested third-party, and the justified actions of the minority by the third-party for political ends.  The overabundance of emotions, emotional responses, which include apathy, empathy, and sympathy, and the deprecation of logic and reasoned responses, are doing significant harm to the society called America.  Too much emotion is driving road rage incidents, mobs, destruction of private property, looting, theft, and so much more.  The solution is two-fold, not in any particular order of priority:

  1. Hold the vocal third-party accountable for the actions their minions are taking.
  2. Recognize the cognitive power in choosing emotional responses differently as an individual.

America can heal from these events and be stronger for it, provided we first capture our emotional responses, and eradicate the cheerleading section who grants justification for emotional outbursts not tolerated in children.

Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and ChoiceFor more on the connection between emotion and choice, please read Solomon’s book, “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice.”  It is a masterpiece of logic and aids the cognitive person in choosing their emotions more purposefully and intentionally.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/.