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    Posted March 26, 2012 by
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    Is the U.S. Having a Crisis in Empathy?


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     MBisMe connects recent current events, like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to what she sees as a "crisis of empathy" in the U.S. 'The tone in our country is such that, everywhere you turn, you are basically encouraged to not be empathetic,' she said. 'We're all born with the capacity for empathy, but we have to use it to build it, like a muscle. Trust and communication need to be restored. It begins with listening to others, feeling worthy and recognizing others as worthy of kindness.'
    - jmsaba, CNN iReport producer

    Did you know that crime statistics in America are the lowest they’ve been in about 20 years? The rate of property crime is the lowest it has been since 1968. Why do we need these stand-your-ground laws? I think these laws and others that enable state-sanctioned murder such as that of Trayvon Martin are a sign of an alarming crossroads of empathy, policy and technology.
    Perhaps we are having a 'crisis in empathy.' Empathy has been on the steep decline for a decade. Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings experienced by another person. This past year’s news has given us a lot of examples of this: From the chants of the audience at a Sept 2011 GOP debate of “let him die, to Dahrun Ravi’s “casual cruelty” that ended in his gay roommate's suicide, to Rush Limbaugh feeling emboldened to call somebody a “whore” and “slut” on national radio. In a world where you can ‘friend’ or ‘defriend’ somebody with a click, is it a short trip to pulling the trigger of a gun (that is easier to obtain thanks to enabling laws) – just one more ‘click’?
    Mind you, crime is going down, as are teen birth rates and abortion rates. The evidence for the fury around these issues is not that they’re a sign of bad times. The reality is – times are pretty good. It is people’s behavior that could be better. Amidst all the cries of personal responsibility, I’d like to advocate for more cries of interpersonal responsibility.

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