Tag Archives: empathy

Who Says Who is a Christian?

The President made a connection between his personal beliefs as a Christian and his executive decisions last week at the National Prayer Breakfast. That part of his speech has enraged some conservative Christian voters, who have made some pretty vitriolic statements in response. The offensive piece of prose:

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.

But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others. Continue reading

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Who Controls Birth Control?

RawStory brings us this great example on NBC’s Meet the Press of a conversation where framing noticeably switches course several times. Who do you think “won” the framing battle here? It is a great piece of video because it is such a dramatic demonstration of how evoking frames makes you empathetic to the framers mindset. Start watching around 1:00. You’ll hear conservative pundit David Brooks, accuse the Obama administration of infringing on religious freedom because he is demanding that insurance providers – religious or not – must cover birth control.  Brooks says that Obama is forcing a religious organization to go against a tenet. Maddow steps in and makes the case that because that religious organization decided to provide insurance, it must follow the same guidelines as other insurers, guidelines that follow a democratically supported position. Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, counters with indignance; citing the message to Catholic hospitals and universities is “you can’t live you beliefs”. Continue reading

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The Facts Always Fit the Frame

“Speak truth to power!” – a common mantra to any justice seeking, accountability lovin’, truth teller out there. A typical scenario would go like this, Citizen A decides to get active around a certain issue, maybe they have a personal experience with it, maybe it just strikes their passion. No matter; Citizen A usually tries to get at least a bit educated about it. Citizen A then often tries to spread awareness and information about their selected issue. They have a laundry list of facts and figures that support the necessity to change the behavior of others – let’s say they want you to write a letter to Congress or stop buying bottled water. Citizen A might have an exhaustive list of facts derived by the best of scientific methods and all information points to the need for you to do this change in behavior, what is it that could actually make you do this new behavior? Continue reading

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“Get a Job” and Other Cruel Jokes

“Get a Job”, is a common thing to hear when you are demonstrating against anything. If you protest the high level of unemployment, there will still be oblivious hecklers that scream “get a job”, as they tear by in their gas guzzlers. I guess the irony is lost on them. The meme is a common one, many conservatives believe that if there are any jobs available, there should not be unemployment. They paint a picture of entitlement where the job seeker is lazy. Speaking from experience, being unemployed is one of the more exhausting occupations I’ve ever had. Continue reading

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Obama Straddles the Fence

I began this post as a sort of Cliff’s notes on the framing of the State of the Union address, but now have done the equivalent of ripping the page out of the typewriter, crumpling it up and tossing it in the can. Obama’s speech had a lot of great points, he is a good speaker and has good writers – the majority of Americans can rally around the majority of the ideas put forward in the speech. He does speak of values – which is where his progressive streak sparks a flame – then he snuffs it out when he tries to walk the fence for the sake of being “moderate”.

Americans aren’t moderates! It is popular to seem moderate and say you’re moderate, but in fact that is not how our brains operate. There are really only two positions for each detail of an issue –  we agree or disagree, yes or no, good or bad – you can almost always break an issue down in this way. We answer those questions by checking our internal value system; is it making us feel empathetic (nurturing, caring) or judgemental (strict, authoritarian). The only other possibility is that of being apathetic or unaware; even if you are uninformed, malinformed, or ignorant you may have a strong opinion, as is painfully apparent today. We are like computers in that this system of forming opinions is basically a set of ones and zeroes.

Let’s try an issue. Continue reading

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