Noah is a taking social intelligence course. A conversation gets me thinking, what is to measure a social intelligence? My observation of kids (and adults, too) is that we need sympathy — the feeling that your action will affect others in this or that way, and the uncomfort the others display truly get to you so you feel bad about it, too. It's hard, actually. How many times you curse the ass-hole on the road who just speed by you without a slightest concern what he does affects you one or another.
But, on the other hand, where to draw the line!? You can be doing things while thinking about how others are going to feel ← this is just not practical, even the intention is certainly sound. I have discussed this in great length in my hurt feeling episode. Then further down the line, there is broadly used generalization of, everything! One post in our highschool wechat page is that Arizona Phoenix sold a piece of property that looks like a China town to a chinese SOE, and the company is going to tear it down. The outcry is that if this happens to Phoenix today, it is coming to Chinatown in Boston, NYC, and so on. Well, this is certainly an exaggerated example because the logic of generalization is too obvious and too weak to be defendable — to me, this is a typical case of tactic of fear when someone (the author?) uses to stir a public emotion in order to, not even achieve a goal I'm afraid, but sheer chaos and disturbance.
Another case in the headline news these days is the Florida mass shooting. Honestly, I can't think of any solution to this, problem. The shooter is coward, because school will always be a target for these ppl — they are vulnerable, easy target, and killing kids hurt the most, to their family, and to the society. This is an economic calculation, not even a hatred motivation — "I want to maximize the outcome with my hit", or the "why you rob a bank? that's where the money is." type of logic. If you hate ppl, or society, or just want to create grief, shooting kids is the logical, optimized move. How terrible this is!!!
But then, sympathy leads right into generalization — if it happened in Florida, it may happen here, to my kids, too. I understand the feeling. Well, not only I understand, I share this whole heartedly. Everyday dropping off Noah at school becomes a jittering experience. A phone call from school reporting "we need to talk to you that Noah had an incident" is bad and upsetting enough; now imagine.... god I don't dare to even imagine that! So yes, I share the grief, share the pain, share the urge to do something so to prevent this from happening.
However, I'm also thinking, are we generalizing!? School shooting creates an uproar in society because the social image of kids are such a crown jewel and the least disputable concensus in all society (pointing me one tribe, group, state, country, religion that kids are not deemed a near-God status) that it creates the perfect target for maximizing damage, and also the perfect foundation for generalization without being challenged.
I don't think anybody wants their kids hurt at school. But, does anyone want to get cancer? HIV? or hit by a car? or not looking like Brad Pitt?.... HIV and Cancer are always the poster child of the uncurable disease. But the fact is, more ppl die from some low-profile name everyone just shrugs shoulder when hearing them. When was the last time you heard somebody talking about malaria, one thing made me truly admire what Bill Gates is doing with his fortune and fame!? And even talking about kids, I listen to NPR's report on Myanmar, young girls at age of 14 are being exploited, by local women and even their own family member, as sex slave(!)... and who is making an outcry for them, why aren't we are generalizing on their behalf!?
Sad, isn't it? So this leads me to another reasoning, that what get heard, get attention, get front page, is indeed decided by the attention of ppl, or, what we care about. This sounds like a cleche. Of course, only ppl's attention will decide what they hear and care. Then what determines that? education? media? propaganda?
I feel I'm running down a rabbit hole again. Sigh. Human society is just messy. Sorry, I don't get it, don't have an answer, not even a clue.
At the mean time, hold on to
sympathy in its generalized term. At
least we should feel sad when others are sad, feel sorry when others
suffer, and try to understand how our acts will affect others,
intentionally or not. That's all.
— by Feng Xia