Circle of Concern


A thoughtful essay by Atul Gawande recently appeared in the New Yorker online, titled "Something Wicked This Way Comes". It talks about complex so-called "wicked problems" associated with health care, and about the challenge of empathy for others in society, especially those in desperate need. A key paragraph:

The major social advances of the past three centuries have required widening our sphere of moral inclusion. During the nineteenth century, for instance, most American leaders believed in a right to vote—but not in extending it to women and black people. Likewise, most American leaders, regardless of their politics, believe people's health-care needs should be met; they've sought to insure that soldiers, the elderly, the disabled, and children, not to mention themselves, have access to good care. But many draw their circle of concern narrowly; they continue to resist the idea that people without adequate insurance are anything like these deserving others.

... sentiments reminiscent of moral philosophers Albert Schweitzer and Rushworth Kidder and, a few centuries earlier, Adam Smith. It's all about about broadening individual perspectives, reducing the gap between self and other, until eventually it dissolves and, maybe, we all become just reflections in an endless maze of mirrors ...

^z - 2012-07-18