By Robert Wuthnow
Robert Wuthnow reveals that people who find themselves such a lot interested by acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than someone else--and that those people who are the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less eager about taking care of others. Robert Wuthnow unearths that those people who are such a lot fascinated with acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than an individual else--and that those who find themselves the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less inquisitive about taking good care of others.
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Additional info for Acts of Compassion
They reflect the fact that we view the individual as a complex of emotions, as a reservoir of needs to be filled up, as a precarious being who is deeply sensitive to the influences of intimate interaction. All these are culturally contingent assumptions. The therapeutic interlocutor has not so much wished away the problem of how individualism relates to caring in our society, as he or she has described it. What the therapeutic interlocutor would admit, if pressed, is that the only thing simple about the therapeutic approach is its emphasis on achieving a healthy balance between one’s own needs and the needs of those one loves.
How we think about motives, in short, reflects how we understand ourselves and our values. Having a language to describe our motives for caring is one of the ways in which we make compassion possible in the indi49 CHAPTER 3 vidualistic society in which we live. It is not enough simply to “be motivated,” as we say; not enough to find ourselves in some situation that prompts us to engage in an act of kindness. We must also have a way to talk about our motivations. We must have a language that allows us to explain to ourselves and others why we are doing what we do.
9 Jack and Marge are clearly in the minority. Helping people is a very important part of their lives. What of the majority? Per32 C A R I N G A N D/F O R O U R S E L V E S haps the tensions I have been describing between self-oriented and other-oriented values exist only for those who have become heavily involved in caring activities. Perhaps, as the surveys show, most Americans hold both individualistic and caring values, but their caring is so minimal or sporadic that they experience little conflict between these values.
Acts of Compassion by Robert Wuthnow