Reaching out and touching someone


So the issue of respect and relationship has been on my mind still. Pas pointed out, quite rightly, that some people want respect despite a lack of relationship. There are individuals who just want people to like and respect them, and that it usually has to do with empathy. I think empathy is key. Just key in almost everything.  If we could find a way to expand peoples’ capacity for empathy I think it could be an antidote to fear, shame and anger. The thing is, the more we see ourselves in others, and them in us the more we want a relationship and want respect. But what is it that instills empathy, why do some people have it and some people don’t? What is it that allows empathy to expand once the seeds are sown? More importantly, what causes it to wither and die?I’ve been reading (listening to) a book about Ayn Rand and the development of her individualism. I think its interesting, because if you subscribe to the idea that most debates can come down to ‘first principles’ and that most of those principles are related to a self/ other, individual/ group divide, the question of why people lean one way or the other becomes paramount.I’ve been thinking about why some people find the ‘group’ to be oppressive, or why they fear the group denying their individual freedoms that guarantee their safety. Why do some people feel that individualism is the only route to safety? (in a totally self centered thought- why do I think the group is more important in that regard?)

I was told recently that I have found myself amongst a group of intellectual refugees, banded together to explore ideas that they were unable to pursue elsewhere. I think thats interesting, especially because my interpretation of why they couldn’t think their thoughts in those places is because they challenged the extant hierarchy in those places. Now my dilemma is this: I think it is important that they think those things, that they be allowed to think those things. I take away important lessons from them thinking those things. So my question is, why do I not feel a part of that community? Why do I try so hard to fit in to the ideology of the dominant group? In all honesty, I think I try to fit into both, but I find it much harder to fit into the challenging paradigm, despite the fact that I’d like to think I spend a lot of time doing that. It would seem that I don’t find the group excessively oppressive enough that escape is the only recourse to intellectual freedom. Or, perhaps I think that total escape is less important than intellectual freedom within the situation as it is only there that one can affect changing that specific system. This feels like a very messy entry, the second such and quite self-centred. Hopefully I’ll become more coherent when I am not myself an intellectual refugee…

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