“You’re not racist, are you?”
“Of course not.”
“Ageist? Sizeist? Nationalist?”
“No, nein, non!”
Well, if you’re a Republican, you probably are all of these things.
Also true if you’re a Democrat.
Study 1: People who spent time outside during winter overestimated the extent to which other people were bothered by cold
Study 2: People who ate salty snacks without water thought other people were overly bothered by thirst
But in both studies this effect evaporated when participants believed that the other people under consideration held opposing political views from their own.
In other words, Republicans don’t mind if Democrats freeze to death, and Democrats don’t care if Republicans die of thirst.
OK, that’s a slight over-statement but the point is that our sympathy, our ability to imagine and feel what others are feeling, wants to draw a line at the red/blue border.
As the researchers put it: “We overestimate the extent to which others feel what we’re feeling, unless they’re on another team.” We’re happy to walk in other people’s shoes, as long as they’re wearing the same colors.
And if this sympathy-limitation is true of politics, how much more of gender, age, race, etc. Dissimilarity and difference tends to turn our hearts off. As researchers concluded: “These consequences suggest a surprising limitation in people’s capacity to empathize with others with whom they disagree or differ from.”
So, should we all become Independents?
No, the answer is more and more of the Gospel of Christ worked deeper and deeper into our hearts.
Because who loved the disagreeable, the dissimilar, and the different more than He did?