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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Barbara Amiel Reveals More Than She Cares To

Everyone has talked about how crass and callous the column is.  Not mentioned so much is this little tidbit: it's easy for Amiel to react this way because according to her column, she spent her uni years playing it safe, watching the risk-takers from the safety of her third-floor window.  It's easy to avoid harassment if you avoid the world entirely.  Would her entrepreneurial husband have spent his student days in his room, one wonders, or out seeking adventure, facing risks, imposing risks?
But it's the quote above that interests me, because I think it's bang-on.
Think politics - every Party decries behaviour in others that they'll justify among their own.  The average person will cuss ignorant drivers but get mad at pedestrians for getting in their way, legally, if they're in a rush.  We get mad at people who interrupt us, but impatient with those who get upset if we cut in.
That's why we have rule of law, rules around scientific research and complex, counter-balancing political institutions; we are emotional creatures that primarily view the world and others through the lens of our own interest.  When we are selfish, tragedies of the commons result.  Even when there's a pro-social intent, like Rob Ford and his football team, we'll still bend the rules in ways we'd get mad at others doing because it's our project.
We are contrarian as a species, meaning we all deal with our own little bit of cognitive dissonance.  It's not a sin; it's biology. 
It's when we start to question our own motivations through doubt and see ourselves as part of something larger that we self-regulation starts to develop.  Seeking to empathize with everyone, even the people you don't like, is the first step towards consciousness.


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