Jesus Zuazo

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Do we really care for others or just think we do?

We talk a lot about how bad the world is, what we could do to improve it. Sometimes we give money to various charitable campaigns or even take part in a project, but often ignore the sadness, loneliness or illness of our closest neighbors. How much good can be done just to give a bit of friendly conversation to someone? How many times have we dodged a homeless man on the street as we come to give money to charity? Do we act and we are engaged? or we deceive ourselves to feel good?

  • Mar 6 2013: We really do care for others as we think we do. This is innate. Unfortunately this trait can be discouraged by the cynical, by those who champion greed, by those who go around saying things such as,"Nice guys finish last" and "You'll never be able to help everybody,so learn to cast a blind eye upon the less fortunate" and others whose hearts have somehow fallen into questionable places. They are not without compassion, mostly. Oh, a few may have been struck with such devastating fortune as to truly be able to consider nothing beyond their own personal welfare, but thankfully such people are exceedingly rare in today's world. They are generally found only in areas where an entire community has been visited with extreme deprivation. No, when we hear people speak in ways that discourage kindness and charity, we are called upon to counter their arguments. Just as we are inclined to practice kindness and charity, we must also be inclined to speak out in favor of it.

    If we act to help others, then we help others. Generally they will forgive us if our hearts are not in the best of all places as we do so. We may be deceiving ourselves about how engaged we are, this is true. How many in a world that so often tells us to take care of ourselves first can truly put ourselves second when engaging with someone in need? Forgetting about ourselves successfully can take some practice. And as in all things, including all good things, can be overdone.
  • Mar 5 2013: Economists say, do not talk to me about values, just show me your budget.

    This makes a good point. The measure of a person's caring is in her/his actions, not words.

    Yes, many of us deceive ourselves to feel good. Many people feel genuine empathy for the poor, the homeless and the hungry, and say that they care very much, but do nothing. They somehow believe that the emotions they experience are the same as caring.

    By the way, I live in the USA and I was much more inclined to approach homeless people before we emptied most of our mental health hospitals because the mentally ill have the "right" to be homeless. It was no coincidence that this also reduced a lot of government budgets. We are an absurd society. Self deception is common.
    • Mar 6 2013: "By the way, I live in the USA and I was much more inclined to approach homeless people before we emptied most of our mental health hospitals because the mentally ill have the "right" to be homeless. It was no coincidence that this also reduced a lot of government budgets. We are an absurd society. Self deception is common."

      Self deception can be very useful in the wrong hands. Take someone who can convince himself he has done something for a good motive, for human rights, let's say. His actual reason is to help his friends get rich, but he doesn't see it that way. So to reduce a large budget item in the state that has elected him governor, he declares that to have the mentally ill who are deemed not dangerous to society released into society will further their human rights. He promises they will continue to receive the care they need through out patient facilities. When what actually happens is that those facilities lose track of most of those patients almost overnight, he tells himself what he did was the right thing anyway. He continues to justify his failures to himself and others so successfully, that they do almost nothing to prevent him from becoming president of these United States. Even with the whole world watching him on the world stage, he is able to sell ideas that should make children weep in amusement at their absurdity. He remains one of our most popular presidents to this day. A snake oil salesman with a killing charm.
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    Mar 6 2013: Some do some don't. It depends on how much responsibility a person is willing to take.
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      Mar 6 2013: That is a good point, how much responsability a person is willing to take.. Speaking about they that do, sometimes we think and believe that we have taken a lot of responsibility. E.g. we give money to charity (good thing), we are happy and feel good (good thing) ... but that's all. We are not worried how is invested that money, we are not worried if there are another ways to help, are we really worried ...?
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        Mar 6 2013: How about guys who work in the peace corp, fight in wars to defend their countries, Drs without borders, they risk everything they have or ever will have to better mankind...

        Of course there is the opposite as well as with politics, they are traitors to mankind
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          Mar 6 2013: ... another interesting and diferent point... guys that fight in wars, is a very nice topic to treat apart. I must do a lot of questions to myself...

          ... Usually they are forced to fight and as war rots everything they end commiting atrocities, perhaps the soldiers think that they are fighting for a better world or for a good cause and they feel like that , but they that give them orders have other plans and use wars and soldiers to their bussiness...
      • W T

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        Mar 8 2013: Jesus, we have seen studies done where they have explained that usually only .25 out of every $1 donated to charities gets to the individuals who need the help. The other .75 goes to those who work for the charity and for the infrastructure of same.

        I think that humans have the capability to really care for others. And even though we personally cannot care for everyone......we can reach out to those around us, don't you think? Many of my neighbors care for each other. I have lived in three countries and have seen this caring attitude in all the neighborhoods I have lived in. What about in your town/city?
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          Mar 8 2013: I have the feeling that we aid in general but only when does not involve an effort. E.g. when there is a a campaing to raise money to charity or difirent projects above all in third world many people donate a lot of money... is necessary and good think, but when there are campaings to donate blood, bone marrow donation, handicapped and elderly care, promoting activities for children etc, all matters involving time, effort and a little bit of dedication, curiosly people disappear or present different excuses.
      • W T

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        Mar 8 2013: What you state is true. However, there are still people who do give of their time to volunteer.

        Just not in the numbers that you might want.

        It is disappointing to ask for volunteers for a project and not have someone show up. But how do you change people?

        I think many in society have become accustomed to giving is a HABIT....they give to churches, to the local firefighters who stand in corners with their boots, to the humane society (animals), to the united way, pretty much to just about anyone who asks for when they are asked to give of themselves.....their time and effort, they don't do it, because they have already given what "everybody else" has given. And in their mind, that is quite enough.

        If there is an organization that needs your time and effort, then by all means get involved.

        You can only control yourself Jesus, you cannot control others........maybe your good example will help others to change. Don't you think? :)
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          Mar 8 2013: I do not intend to control anyone, only know a little bit about people and mainly think aboutIf i don't help others when I need help I can not receve it as I have not invested in it...
          I agree, trying to give a good example may be contagious, especially when we act in the sight of children we can educate them in this way.
      • W T

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        Mar 8 2013: The expression I used to "control" in it's context it means that regardless of what we try to explain or show to another human, they will act according to their free will. I was not implying that you intended to control....I'm sorry if you took it that way, it was not my intention.

        Many times when we show a caring attitude to another person, that person might not necessarily care about us when we need them.

        Many times we give to some people, but end up receiving what we need from a totally different group or individual........I don't know if you understand this?
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          Mar 8 2013: You have explained it well about "control" word, I was trying to extend the comment because it is an interest point.

          I mean, more good actions sow, get better harvest (moreless explained)
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    Mar 7 2013: Depends on if you have compassion
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    Mar 6 2013: There are various levels of caring, and if an individual is mindfully aware in him/herself, s/he will know how committed s/he is to caring. Before we can care about others, which includes respect, compassion, empathy and kindness, we need to be able to care about ourselves. We cannot give to others, something we do not have in ourselves, and if we try to do so, we may be deceiving ourselves.

    In my humble perception, "caring" doesn't have anything to do with giving money, UNLESS the giving of money for a particular cause has an underlying foundation of genuine authenticity and committment.

    If one geneuniely takes part in a project, with awareness and committment, being fully engaged in the process, one does NOT ignore the sadness, loneliness or illness on the way. Some people are genuinely engaged, and some people are is a choice in each and every moment of the life experience.
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    Mar 6 2013: We deceive ourselves to feel good
    Regular people do not care enough to do something big.
  • Mar 5 2013: I often think of the question too.It reminds and teaches me what means caring for others:Respecting is the root of the caring.Accepting is the branch of the caring.Being conscious is the whole quality of caring.Don't try to put your fingers into others' things,no gossiping around.
  • Mar 11 2013: When we look on the surface, it's hard not the feel as though we make ourselves believe we are really doing something to improve the world. The media has bombarded us with bad news, of corruption, of greed, and in our everyday lives, in school, in the workforce, this notion of psychological egoism is hard to avoid. It seems as though we often act out of self-interest, even when we do something good. If we casually donate to a charity, it is to look like we care about others, but it might not be because we actually are passionate. But we cannot avoid those who are passionate.

    I also believe that when it comes to danger, a life or death situation, we are truly caring. If a stranger is in a situation that can lead him or her to die and we can save them, I see many intervening to risk their own life for someone they don't even know.

    The changing of our culture, the rapid consumerism, technological advances, inevitable exposure to greed coats a core that I think truly cares about humankind.
  • Mar 5 2013: OK you must understand for one your culture and what is the norm of it Because our "goodness" is nothing but what our own perspective of it is if you were truly "good" every dollar you'd earn would be given to charity and you would beg for your every meal because you are so generous everything is perspective never judge yourself to harshly until you think of the situation are in
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      Mar 6 2013: Hello, Instead give all my money to charity, I think that is enough give part of my earns to develop projects that help people to be self sufficient and have a goog quality of life.
      But there are things that money can not fix. E.g. there are a lot of elderly that sometimes only need someone to speak or to share a coup of coffee, undoubtedly any little bit piece of charity fix with money is good but sometimes we forget friendship, love, ... spent some time with them because is easier spent money.
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    Mar 6 2013: .
    We do really care for others!

    It is symbiosis ---- instinct (ancestors' successful experiences saved in our DNA).
    But we care for different people in different degrees instinctively.

    (For details, see the 1st article, points 4-8, at
  • Mar 5 2013: Human qualities, including behavior, are multi-genetic in origin. Multi-genetic influences can only combine to produce a diversity of outcomes (phenotypes) that vary from one extreme to the other (bell curve). At one end we find the truly "selfish" sociopaths and at the other the truly "altruistic". Most of us lie somewhere on this continuum.
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    Mar 5 2013: Some people care deeply for others and act continuously on that authentic commitment. Others do not care enough for others that reaching toward them ever surfaces as a priority when the person chooses actions to take.

    And some care very little and have rationalizations to support their actions or lack thereof, perhaps considering themselves models of empathy. Some of the most ego-focused people I have met consider themselves models of empathy.

    So it varies.