Immersed in Catholic teaching through grade school, high school, and college, I figured that if there's a God and heaven, He/She/It must smile when the mega rich use their resources empathetically, especially after I learned how avid reader and Scottish American rich guy Andrew Carnegie built over 2500 libraries around the world to help some of us to act less like ruffians.
As an undergraduate and graduate school student of politics and economics, I figured that God's accountant must smile upon the world's most powerful nation when its public policies empathetically uses its resources, especially since my spreadsheet proved it was a helluva lot cheaper practicing empathy than ignoring it.
Growing from toddler to tennis shoes, I assumed most of America thought pretty much like this happily unaware Ohio kid did.
Maybe my empathetic worldview started while watching my mom feed and wash the bloodied homeless guy I found sleeping in the field where we played with wooden stick swords. Maybe it was fortified from boyhood fights in Cleveland's alleys that suggested that having and making friends was an easier way to enjoy one's neighborhood than brawling over bragging rights.
My worldview that practicing empathy helps the hurting, my neighborhood, and me became solidified after spending a couple years working the slums of South Bronx and Bombay (Mumbhai) as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV).
PCV service taught some of us that too many Americans have not had the searing experiences that might lead them to use our short earthy sojourn to pile up graces via practicing empathetic responses to crying needs. Isn't piling up graces what our largely Christian nation preaches and teaches us to do?
In our especially blessed, relatively un-crowded nation, we built our can-do image to imply that empathy and sympathy are little needed here. Yet, when greed sucked much of this vast, resource rich nation into a Great Depression, a legless leader who learned first hand about empathy provided helping hands that allowed slumping people to pull themselves up.
Today, after wasting $3+ trillion on a trumped-up war in the wrong country, the world's once dominant economic power again finds Top Hat Crony greed drowning masses of laboring Americans under even more gimmick-laden debt. While grasping for a fair and balanced economy that works for the middle class, we too often forget that an empathetic foreign policy must cost effectively reduces the number of morphing terror cells. If you want to reduce the deadly costs of 21st century terror wars, help kill their recruitment chain with empathy.
If you believe practicing "empathy" is healthy public policy, Scientific American's May 29, 2010 post warns us of an increasingly endemic problem that results from too many Americans too often escaping gritty real life experiences, which were they personally exposed to might make them more empathetic. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=college-students-are-less-empathic-10-05-29)
A Scientific American study of 14,000 college students from 1979-2009 found "College Students Are Less Empathic (by about 40%) Than Generations Past."
Part of the problem, according to one of the lead researchers, Ed O'Brien, is:
"It's harder for today's college student to empathize with others because so much of their social lives is done through a computer and not through real life interaction."
The answer he proposed:
"I think our best suggestion now is to force yourself to step outside the computer a little bit each day and try to remember what it's like to relate to others in the real world."
So, here you are "reading" about "empathy" on the new media whose overuse may contribute to the problem. Here's a deeper, longer lasting means to bring "healthy empathy" and a healthier economy back to America."
Get out and help move Congress to introduce and enact People's Lobby's American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals (AWSC). A functioning AWSC will have a million Americans a year for at least a generation volunteering to address problems that allow them to build common sense based empathic solutions. Not only will empathy be based on real life experience but also, as a nation, we will be smarter in using our dollars, resources, and the blood of our young. So, why not call your Congressional reps and urge them to introduce People's Lobby's AWSC Congressional Proposals? (Or paste http://www.worldservicecorps.us/world service key proposal 2yr volunteer.htm to learn more.)
And while doing so, remember Scott Adams words on "empathy."
"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."
And those ripples make life safer, less expensive, and richer with healthy experiences for you and yours.
And don't forget, Kahlil Gibran's words:
"Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution."
Combat need not be the most profound experience through which people and a nation manifest strength" or suffer disastrous physical, emotional, and mental losses.
Of course, these are not Glen Beck's definitions of "empathy." His definition claims Hitler's empathy lead to concentration camp butchery.
If you believe that being peacefully involved in the actions and passions of the times produces the empathy inherent in Adam and Gibran's words rather than Beck's, why not contact California's Senators Boxer at 202-224-3553 and Feinstein at 202-224-3841 and urge them to introduce the AWSC Congressional Proposals.
You can get your Congressional representative's contact information from this link http://contactingthecongress.org/.
And, if you had "Christian" schooling experiences similar to those outlined above, ask yourself,
"Would Christ and his apostles proselytize Americans into serving your fellow man by building a robust American World Service Corps or would they proclaim that merely talking about empathy with your parents and religious teachers was enough?"
If your schooling was so long ago that you forgot some of your Christian marching orders, here's Colonels Mark 10:21 and Luke 6:38 telling you how Jesus wanted you to march and war.
"Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack,' he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
For those proselytizing about America's rich Christian tradition, shouldn't they move more Americans to march in step with Commander JC's empathetic field directions? So, what will you do with these old marching orders?