Friday, December 30, 2011

Re: The Rich Having Less Compassion Article By Time

I just want to make a quick response to this article. 

I was trying to warm up before I start studying Korean today and happened to come across this article on Facebook. There was this Time article that intrigued me mainly because it mentioned "rich" and "compassion" in the title. Then I go on to read there whole spiel on their diatribe about having compassion and why rich people might not show empathy.

The second study involved a smaller group of 64 subjects who watched two videos — an emotionally neutral instructional video on construction techniques, and a far more charged one that involved real families coping with a cancer-stricken child. Again, the subjects filled out emotional inventories and again they scored similarly on most mood metrics, including sadness. But the lower-income volunteers continued to come out higher on the compassion-and-empathy scale.

During this part of the study, Stellar also hooked her volunteers up to heartbeat monitors to determine their physical reactions to the two videos. There was, not surprisingly, no difference in heart rate when the instructional video was playing, but when the cancer stories began, the heartbeats of the lower-income volunteers slowed noticeably — a counter intuitive sign of caring. An immediate threat to ourselves or another causes heart rate to jump, the better to snap into action to respond to the danger. An emotional crisis can have the opposite physical effect on observers — helping them settle down to provide the quieter attention that simply listening and consoling requires.

There are inherent flaws in the logic behind their experimentation in my opinion. One is the whole monitoring the heart rates of people behind the experimentation. I understand it was used to measure a physiological response. Two, it was the fact that they did not take profession and overall social status into account. I think a low income, hardened criminal, with multiple accounts that has been in and out of the prison system and that shows signs of schizoid personality disorder might illicit the same results. To me this does not measure compassion. Compassion goes beyond the physiological responses of a human being. It is psychological, too. It is also historical as well. How did a person grow up? This should have been taken into account.

I like many young people have grown up in a poor lower class environment. My mother was generous with money, but she was also foolish with it too. The one thing that stopped my mother from becoming rich was her compulsive gambling and drinking. My mother was a nurse. Naturally, I think she was put into positions where she had to show compassion for those around her. She was not an RN, I want to make that clear. RNs got significantly more money. But despite not having much money, my mother donated generously.  Despite this, she was still somewhat frugal with her money. She had the chance to become middle and upper class, but she didn't many due to her marriage. To make a long story short, she was poor and compassionate.

Now let's an Oprah Winfrey and you will see the same possible results. Someone who was from a lower class back ground who went on to become a billionaire. She went to college and did the Oprah show and then eventually O! magazine. She has donated and has made her money through being in a field where she is forced to show compassion. I'm not saying that Oprah would have been callous if she was in commissioned sales, but from the experiences that I have had, you are taught to act a certain way when you sale and I think that indirect brainwashing could be attributed to callousness.

However, if someone acts callous it is mostly due to how they were taught to either respond to hardship or how they naturally respond to it. I think Time sends a negative message about having money, because for every negative insight they have, I can think of a dozen positive ones. Last time I checked, rich people are the ones that are helping to treat cancer. Most of the donations towards cancer research are done mainly by rich people and middle class people.  And I'm making the regards in a money since because I think that is more logical than to just take a study and fire off numbers. Statistics can easily be manipulated to support one's own arguments and opinions. Taking that into consideration, I would try to not mentally demonize rich people for being successful. Demonizing certain rich people for their moral decisions to me is a waste of time. Not everyone shares the same compassion for cancer. It might not appeal to people as much, but it should be considered looking into. We live in a age where we can make prosthetic body parts and treat AIDS but we cannot cure cancer.