Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Guest Blogger "hereandnow"

"hereandnow" posted at conversationattheedge.com in a discussion entitled "What Makes One Person More Caring than Another", and I found the thoughts helpful and provocative, so I thought I'd repost here.

"Two very interesting sources that address the initial question of what motivates responses of caring/indifference in this world are a short academic work by Alice Miller called The Drama of the Gifted Child and a recent movie made in South Africa called Tsotsi. Drama basically comes down on the side of these traits being nurtured by our experience of pain and suffering in early childhood. Not everyone responds the same way, but Miller makes an interesting case for the way things unfold. Tsotsi, on the other hand, is based on a novel, so I assume very fictionalized. The main character is ruthless, but in the midst of his ruthlessness, he begins to experience a sort of transformation due to stealing a car with an infant in it. It deals with personal transformation of character from ruthlessness to compassion with out being trite or unrealistic (sort of).

"Now, I’ll weigh in on what I think the origins/motivations of being either consumed with compassion (other-centered) or indifference (self-centered). I think it comes down to whether we are preoccupied with justice or personal righteousness (I know, we’d like to be equally devoted to both, but it’s a rare person who is). How we derive at these preoccupations is the result of our trying to make sense of the hardships of life, be they from abuse, genetic limitations or just plain stupidity on our part. But, we try and construct systems that make sense of the pain of the human condition (loaded term that I don’t mean to equate with the fall of humanity from any state of grace in Eden). While I generally hate to dichotomize things into either/or, in this issue I do think that we either gravitate towards trying to deal with our own hurt by trying to bring justice into our world, or we deal with it by trying to protect the self at the cost of anything that gets in the way of that protection. Which side of the proverbial fence we fall on will make vast differences in how we treat ourselves and others."

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