Privilege and Compassion: Incompatible?

I’d be very interested in getting feedback about this short PBS video from visitors to this page. What do you think about the research? Do you think financial advantage, real or fabricated, influences the way people treat others? Are rich people less altruistic, more likely to cheat and lie and steal, and more aggressive than poor people?  If so, what does that say about the “middle class?”  Are they imperfect liars who occasionally care that their modest privilege robs the less privileged?

I have opinions, but I’d rather hear others’ points of view before I start spouting off about my own.  I did find this video VERY interesting.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Privilege and Compassion: Incompatible?

  1. robin andrea says:

    Such an interesting video, but not surprising. Reminds me a bit of this article that I probably already shared with you in the past, but worth looking at again:
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2008/05/beware-the-psychopath-my-son/
    I think there is an element of psychopathology that can be triggered by wealth. It takes a lot of compassion to over-ride the sense of privilege and dominion.

  2. Thanks, Pauline. What I found most interesting about this piece was the suggestion that a person simply HAVING more tends to result in his or her belief that he or she DESERVES more, i.e., a sense of greater entitlement seems to accompany the accumulation of greater wealth. I’ve seen so much of that; people who were at the right place at the right time and who are not possessed of appreciably more knowledge or skill or ability than someone else get a significant advantage and then begin to believe that advantage is their due. Not only that, there seems to be a transformation in attitude about others who did not stumble into the same luck; those less fortunate are not as smart, not as resourceful, not as deserving. If, indeed, the mere accident of being in the right place at the right time has those effects on people, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to devote some attention to that, to encourage people to consider that tendency and to take steps to overcome it. I am trying to persuade myself that I should feel less animosity to arrogant, uncaring people with a lot of money because, “it’s not their fault.” So far, I’ve been unsuccessful. How do we eliminate financial status from the moral compass?

  3. Go ahead, John and spout off. This is shocking but not an excuse for greed.

Please tell me how this post strikes you.