Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Overcoming the empathy gap

How do we overcome the empathy gap? This is one of the questions raised by Daniel Goleman in his article "Rich people just care less."  He noted that with the dramatic increase in the gap between the rich and everyone else, it becomes a central question as to how to generate awareness and sensitivity to those who are on the lower economic rungs of society.  Research notes that one of the best ways this can be done is through developing personal relationships.

With the advent of freeways, suburbs and exurbs, it is increasingly more common for people to have little opportunity to develop meaningful relationship across economic and racial lines.  I recall vividly how a former health care executive was simply shocked to discover long lines at free health clinics for people without insurance. Among his circle of friends all had adequate resources and insurance.  Living in a well healed neighborhood and working in a high level corporate job, little did he realize how much of the rest of America lives.

It would serve us, and our members of congress well to get to know more of the folks working at K-Mart, Sam's Club, or the people riding on the bus.  We need to work at reducing the "Us" and "Them" mentality that runs contrary to our long held nation's motto "E pluribus unum".

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