Addicted to Empathy (that’s not a new drug)


It happened. Again. I am a traitor because I bought The Guardian today instead of my daily The Times.

See here what good came out of this:

What do Jimmy Carter, Mario Varga Llosa and Sting have in common?

Well, they all along many other celebrities have appeared as co-signers of an initiative to re-consider the laws and/or attitude toward the use of drugs. The Beckley Foundation considers that it is time to admit some failures in the case of the present war on drugs policy.

So, being dependent or addicted should not necessarily be made illegal. The  ever-present and rising alcohol industry is a reliable witness to that. The prohibition never led to inhibition.

All being said I don’t feel guilty for being addicted to one paper for I was happy WH Smith in Brent Cross has run out of The Times today.

This was the opportunity to stumble upon a now familiar figure (sorry, I am not really a stalker, not that you would ever read this) that of Mark Vernon. (I don’t know why people keep looking for “Mark Vernon naked” and end up on my blog; there must be a confusion somewhere or more than one person using the name).

Now, here are some of his thoughts on empathy, compassion, being good generally:

“I have the sense that being compassionate towards others requires being compassionate towards yourself too: serious intent, light touch.”

“What the Good Samaritan had, was an inner freedom that trumped any fear. He wasn’t tied by convention, or fright, or lack of time. He was free to respond to another human being. Am I that free?”

It would have looked like a cheap declaration,  part of a self-righteous sermon  if it didn’t go to add later that

“Feeling viscerally upset by someone else’s pain might make you turn your back. Alternatively, collective empathy with my in-group can lead to collective animosity towards those perceived as others. Such empathy powers wars. The risk is that my compassion for some leads to self-righteous anger at others.”

There could be one optimistic way out of this dilemma and in his opinion is that

“compassion is really aimed at something big and difficult – nothing less than a transformation of your life and yourself”


I’d say amen to that.

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