Empathy, For Real

Way back, long before people proved their empathy by twitting “hopes and prayers” or condemning the unwoke for using offensive language like “hysterical,” empathy wasn’t something you signaled to your followers but actually did in real life. In 2007, I explained my take on charity.

Charity is giving something of significance without the expectation of anything in return.  Not recognition.  Not even a thank you.  It is giving for its own sake.

The phrase “virtue signalling” has become a ubiquitous insult, and with good reason. If the best you can manage is to twit empathetic phrases on the twitters or Facebook, then you’re just another scoundrel faking your empathy without actually helping anyone. Yes, I get it, spreading the word is itself virtuous as it gets others to similarly spread the word, and the word gets spread and spread, all the while no one ever doing much of anything other than spreading the word.

Plus, words make people feel better. Not as good as, say, a warm coat or a hot meal, but in your pretend world of warm and fuzzy, it’s close enough to make you feel good about yourself as you sip your peppermint latte.

There are some very unwoke folks who are trying to do something useful. Dan Hull has been pushing “One Night, One Person” for the past five years. You don’t get more politically incorrect than Dan, but if you happen to be homeless, a warm coat beats the hell out of twitter tears.

Greg Doucette has adopted an elementary school and, for the past few years, made some children’s lives better by providing food for the holidays. His goal this year, a mere $2,750, is remarkably modest, particularly given Greg’s substantial twitter following. And he’s got some folks matching donations, doubling their worth.

Granted, these aren’t anonymous efforts, but then, they’re real efforts, unlike those of you who spew empathetic words and never get off the couch or reach into your pockets for anybody but yourself. It may be unseemly to give and let others know about how wonderful and generous you are, but if a little self-aggrandizement is the price of helping someone, it’s better that you do so rather than do nothing.

Bear in mind, there are people who are hungry all year round, not just at holidays or the end of your tax year. If you can help, you should. If you need the validation of proving your humanity for your followers, then let others know about how virtuous you are for actually doing something real rather than merely feigning empathy.

As for me, it’s none of your business what my family and I do, but suffice it to say that I feel no qualms about telling you to do something real for others who are in need.

13 thoughts on “Empathy, For Real

  1. Skink

    Once upon a time, before mine, lawyers were among the most respected folks in any town. It was that way because it was the lawyers who found the folks in need and helped. Other times, people in need found the lawyer because that’s where help was, and most times, the need wasn’t one for representation. Lawyers always knew where to find help.

    Now, many of us sit in marble and oak palaces. Sure, the work is a grind. Sure, it can empty the soul. But many of us enjoy success beyond dream. Some wallow in it. I’ve been guilty. I’m not alone. Folks put hard labels on our wallowing. they should.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they came to us like they used to?

    1. SHG Post author

      I was just thinkin’ to myself this morning, “if a bear shits in the woods and nobody hears it, is the Pope still Catholic?”

      1. Skink

        SHG–it’s Saturday, so things are different. But that doesn’t mean you should put phrases in the blender.

    2. Guitardave

      Nothing personal, but when i see a marble and oak palace I know i can’t afford that persons ‘help’.
      One other thing…and maybe its the Scot in me, but i don’t tend to entertain the idea that one gets something for nothing…hence, i rarely ask for help.

      PS: All the money in the world won’t buy you a soul. I’m 57 and I’ve already outlived more friends and acquaintances than i can count on both hands…all of ’em the soon-to-be-extinct, working class ‘crazy’ white boys. Slow down, brother. Life is just too fucking short.

      1. Skink

        “Nothing personal, but when i see a marble and oak palace I know i can’t afford that persons ‘help’.”

        That’s the point, GD. It would be nice if that wasn’t the perception and it might not be the perception if we did more for free, not for fees. It worked before.

        1. SHG Post author

          In the old days, people were very reluctant to ask for help, and deeply appreciated it. Today, they demand it and are agressively angry if you say no.

          1. guitardave

            It seems the ‘help’ dynamic works best when those who are blessed with wealth looks to see who really needs it, and makes the first move. If you open yourself up too much, the vultures show up. BTW, i have accepted help when its offered, and i needed it. At times i think it might be a not-so-good kind of pride that makes asking for help so hard…it taints the virtuous ” i guess i’m just ‘old fashioned’ ” rap…

Comments are closed.