Empathy is natural and serves as the foundation for all of our other values. The advantage here is it means we have an inner guide for how to live, but our problem is that translating those values into action can take a lot of thought. Sometimes those values conflict, or we don’t have the time for a lot of steps in getting from an idea to a relevant decision.
So we build or come to accept mental shortcuts for ourselves in the form of ideology. A bunch of rules that easily answer a lot of questions for us in normal life. But they sacrifice precision for general usefulness. And they drag along tribalism and time wasting tradition. They create roadblocks to the full application of reason.
Or perhaps we accept the guidance of others, in personal relationships or institutions like religion or the media. It allows us to transfer the mental workload onto another, who is hopefully more experienced in the area, more well read or has just thought about the issues more. But maybe they haven’t, maybe they have less or bad information, or maybe their bias is particularly problematic in this area.
My argument is not that we can do the hard value work all the time, but that we can and must do it more than we are. And that we must acknowledge our own limitations and engage others in these kinds of conversations. These kinds of conversations must become normalized, in order to get more perspectives, better trust ourselves and feel less lonely.
“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
― C.G. Jung