Written by Vinciane Rycroft.
As the Dalai Lama shares his message of dialogue and compassion in the UK in the coming days, we might find ourselves wondering whether a compassionate outlook can really be a driving force in our political, economic and social institutions.
If we look at our private lives, whether we would like to admit it or not, when circumstances are good, we all basically care about those around us. But the demands on our time and attention are such that our empathy can get quite fatigued, and we can’t always see a way to make compassionate decisions in our professional life.
Our generation also tends to be bombarded by the idea that the dominant human tendency is selfishness, driven by our genes’ blind wish to survive and continue their existence into the next generation. And yet, evolutionary theories of the survival of the fittest are now challenged by scientists from all backgrounds. American clinical psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions Paul Ekman has recently revived Darwin’s discussions about sympathy and compassion which run contrary to the competitive, ruthless, and selfish view of human nature that has been mistakenly attributed to a Darwinian perspective.
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