Empathy and Bias

This was indeed a very rich conversation. Right off the start when everyone presented how complex their background is, I started relating to either myself, or people that I know of who have similar experiences. One thing that grabbed my attention is when Mia said that all the positive things that Parisa are currently doing came from a place of pain. While that’s true, I don’t believe we should be sorry for it. I mean it’s indeed pitiful that someone experiences a sort of unprecedented discrimination, but it’s these painful moments that drive us for making a change whether on an individual or societal level. I have a similar experience, which unfortunately I cannot share, where literally every positive outcome came from a negative feeling.

There was a general theme during the conversation, which is the notion of being a sort of citizen of the world while holding on to certain traditions, beliefs, or any traits that link to one’s identity. It could be largely because of the diverse backgrounds of the participants. For example, I have a Finnish friend of Russian descendants, and her boyfriend is Swiss Italian. The way they found each other is by believing that they don’t necessarily belong to a certain country / culture as long as they are surrounded by a diverse group of people where stereotypes don’t exist.

I liked Prof. Omid’s approach towards the practical application of philosophy, and I was actually surprised to know that the current pure theoretical form of philosophy is a recent trend. I myself hold no interest in Philosophy because when I was exposed to the material and readings of different philosophers, I couldn’t find any area where I could relate, or any valuable, practical knowledge that I can apply to my life.

Mia said that she found herself through teaching, but she thinks it was a little late in life. I personally have a similar experience where I thought that the issues that I finally settled could have been resolved at a younger age. However, I came to realize that the conclusions I reached at my age are different from what I would have reached at a younger age because it’s mainly enhanced by the cumulative experiences that I built over years. Hence, I would say that even if we find our true calling, or realize who we are and what we ought to do at a relatively late age, the experiences that we built over years will not go in vain. It’s really our experiences that we define who we are and where we belong.

Kamakshi said that sharing her experience with others helped her accept herself more and learn from others’ experience too. That’s actually one of the main reasons why people should appreciate the few coincidences when they meet a new, random person, and instead of overlooking the situation because of however busy they are, they listen to that person’s stories and share their own stories. Some people say that by going to counseling and speaking their minds out loud, it helped them analyze their thoughts deeply and become more aware and accepting of who they are, which is exactly similar to sharing your experience with other. I know I am contradicting myself since I refused to share my experience that I mentioned earlier, but I have my reasons :).

To warp this all up, this was actually entertaining and informing to watch. I have met many people who came from diverse background, and others who face identity and belonging issues even they are born and raised in the same place where they descendants were. I forgot to mention that I also liked Prof. Omid’s ”cultural taxation” notion, and his approach for structural change. It’s similar to what anthropologists call societal change from above or below, and his approach to have a sort of collective change instead of individualistic efforts is really helpful because it’ll have an impact on a larger group of people.

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