‘When someone has angered me, I won’t count to ten before responding. Instead, I won’t respond until I have identified a time when I’ve done something similar to what the offender has done. I won’t say, “Ah, there but for the grace of God go I,” I’ll say “There go I, no buts about it, because I remember when I went there.”‘
Research suggests resisting temptation is harder than avoiding tempting circumstances. I feel many cases that go through the judicial system are about punishing those who gave in to temptation. Is the severity of the punishment determined by the judge’s belief in recidivism (likelihood to recommit) – an overall judgement on someone’s self control? Does that mean that part of the judgement is on how tempting something actually is?
Power corrupts – and part of this is the tendency to adapt and normalize your current situation. If you have power, you consider having power normal and get used to it – which overwrites your memory of not having power. In order to normalize, you have to distance yourself from previous experiences.
We often say “Walk a mile in their shoes”. I’ve always thought we should make this mandatory for people in power. And therefore, anyone given additional privileges must periodically be deprived of them. Anyone who judges those who give in to temptation should periodically experience that temptation.
What would that look like in action? Let’s say you are judging the case of a man who stole bread. Before you hear the case, you would be given an injection that raises your appetite to the level of starvation (hormones in your digestive system act as appetite suppresents and enhancers, so this is possible). Before you judge a case of rage, you would be pumped full of adrenaline. If you consider a drug addict, you must at some point have experienced addiction. The goal is to empathize physically, and let that naturally alter your mental state to get closer to the person you are thinking about.
*Fantasy stories commonly tackle this theme. One excellent example is the film Dark City
Similarly, I think that those who decide how healthcare is provided should have to go one month out of every year without insurance. It is frightening, to worry every day that some accident could leave you in debt for the rest of your life. But that fear takes awhile to sink in.
For empathy, emotional parallelism is more important and effective than intellectual parallelism. That is the goal of every form of empathic induction, in the long run.
Asi Burak’s game about the Palestine/Israel conflict an experience in unintentional propaganda – as a leader, you are provided only with your side’s problems.
“We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” the original Philip K. Dick story about literally experiencing someone else’s life via implanted memories.