Learning from Beggars

If we can only train ourselves to always use “you” instead of “they” when referring to others, maybe we can get closer to using “we.”  Because when we reach the we stage of thinking, true equality can be achieved.

On the whole most people, when forced to identify with somebody in need of help, will do so….Where it doesn’t work as well is in the larger abstract sense.  When people aren’t confronted with the reality of need, when it is presented as an abstract concept like Welfare or Unemployment Benefits or WIC or Housing Assistance or Failing Schools or Starvation or Homelessness, we are able to substitute the distance and caution that comes along with every use of the third person plural, “They” instead of the connection and concern that comes naturally to most of us when we are forced to use the second person, “You,” or the first person, “We.”

via Daily Kos: Learning from Beggars: How to Be Human So People Will See You.

The second lesson is to confront the tendency to avert our eyes when we know that someone is in need. We realize that if we face the problem, we’ll feel compelled to do something about it, and so we avoid looking and thereby avoid the temptation to give in and help. We know that if we stop for a beggar on the street, we will have a very hard time refusing his plea for help, so we try hard to ignore the hardship in front of us: we want to see, hear, and speak no evil. And if we can pretend that it isn’t there, we can trick ourselves into believing –at least for that moment– that it doesn’t exist. The good news is that, while it is difficult to stop ignoring the sad things, if we actively chose to pay attention there is a good chance that we will take an action and help a person in need.

via Dan Ariely Blog «.

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