SCRAPS (things I would like to have written about)
… but did not have the time to…
I would like to have blogged about this thought provoking excerpt from Russell Banks’ The Darling on the difference between empathy and sympathy.
“What was ethically and even practically wrong with having empathy towards the other? For a long time, I answered, Nothing. Nothing at all. It’s good politics. I see a blind man about to cross a street and think, He can’t see the whizzing traffic, he needs me to see it for him, to take his arm and escort him over to where he clearly wishes to go. Operating on the assumption that, if I were blind, I’d need me to help me, I grab the man’s arm and pull him panic-stricken into the traffic, terrifying and endangering him. Because I ~m sighted, I have relied and insisted on using a guidance system that utilizes sight as its main source of data. But the blind man has his own system for crossing the street. The blind man hears what I merely see, isolates bits of information that are lost on me, and coordinates and remembers data that I’ve not even registered.
I’m talking here about the difference between empathy and sympathy, between feeling for the other and feeling with the other. The distinction came to matter to me. It still does. When you abandon and betray those with whom you empathize, you’re not abandoning or betraying anyone or anything that’s real as yourself. Taken to its extreme, perhaps even pathological form, empathy is narcissism.”
I would like to have blogged about how empowerment has come to represent the latest incarnation of colonialism, a well meant, cuddly way not only to tell people what they should do, but also what they should need and what they should ask for on the ground that we have feeling for them. A fabrication like any of these fizzy drinks adverts selling sweeter dreams of wellbeing, happiness and trendiness to people who will only end up isolated, obese, and rejected. Empowerment “understood to represent the currently ‘politically correct’ way of thinking about ‘third world’, subaltern or marginalised people” as Laura put it 10 years ago.
I would like to have blogged about “how to write about African Women” in the style of Binyavanga Wainaina when he wrote this marvellous piece for Granta “How to write about Africa” (made into a video directed by Jesse Dylan and acted by the Beninois actor Djimon Hounsou). It would have started “African women are black, poor, feeble, abused, uneducated, sick and most importantly in need of your help.”
I would like to have to produce a video response to another of these catholics who believes the Pope is right saying condoms are not helping in the fight against HIV/AIDS simply because he is too dumb to understand the difference between correlation and causation or even to check the facts he is using for his rambling. But he is a believer, not a thinker.
I would like to have blogged about another ignoramus, Roger Swan who writes for the Edmonton Journal asking “the [HIV] orthodoxy [to] respect the request put forth by Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis [an AIDS denialist who has never done any scientific research on HIV or AIDS] back in 1988 and provide the scientific reference establishing the causal link between HIV and AIDS.”
Mr Swan has either spent too much time hybernating in some remote place in the deep of the Canadian mountains or has no ethics as of today there are 294,572 peer-reviewed scientific articles supporting and demonstrating that HIV causes AIDS (and we are talking about causality not correlation here). It is not ignorance or absence of professional ethics; it is just plain idiocy and intellectual laziness.
I would like to have blogged about this quote from a Globe and Mail editorial “However, the collective rights of this minority group [HIV+] cannot take precedence over their individual responsibility not to infect others” to highlight the current “conflicts of rights” that’s brewing in the world of HIV. Indeed what about the duty of the majority group [HIV-] to ensure that they are taking their responsibility not to be infected? You need to be two for tango and the onus cannot and shouldn’t rest only on the shoulder of the “minority”. But this debate and others will continue as long as they are focussed on individual rights and laws rather than collective responsibilities and health.
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