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July 20, 2005

empathy

I was talking to my doctor today (I'm fine, thank you--a routine visit), and he happened to ask whether I had ever fainted. I told him that I had--twice, as a matter of fact, at about age 9 and age 12. The first time, the teacher was explaining about an addict's heroin-withdrawal symptoms. The second time, a different teacher was telling us about the torture of a political prisoner. In both cases, crash!--I fell off my chair unconscious.

My doctor said, "I guess you're not the kind of guy they use to apply pressure down in Guantanamo." I replied, "I don't think there's any connection between my kind of empathy and real morality. But you're probably right; I'm not suited for Gitmo."

(It seems to me, by the way, that morality takes guts, judgment, and principle as well as softness of heart.)

Posted by peterlevine at July 20, 2005 07:12 PM

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