Some people, like myself, believe the root of almost all humanity’s problems is our Unreason. Others think the root issue is the lack of empathy. However, I think I finally get that it’s the same thing! Let me tell why I think so.

As I understand it, only the few people who have severe mental issues, like psychopaths, don’t have the capacity to feel empathy. Most humans, via evolution, were born with that capacity. So why are so many people seemingly devoid of it, cruel, and heartless?

There are many human impulses we have to contend with – fear, desire, anger, and more. Let’s say a Caucasian male in the US has a job that’s hanging by a thread, and he’s already struggling to get by. He may be predisposed to fear an influx of people that could increase competition for jobs – not to mention the primal fear of the “other” – people who are different than us. These fears add up to a desire to spurn needy immigrants – but that makes trouble, because it conflicts with his natural empathic response to help them. How does his brain resolve this?

Simple: by emotionally redefining those he wants to close his heart to as not-people.

I’m not saying anyone is doing this consciously – it’s all subconscious really – but this is how it happens. However redefining a group as non-people isn’t so easily done – at least not without evidence that this group doesn’t deserve our consideration or our empathy.

But what if no such evidence can be found? Again, the brain has a simple solution, it simply agrees to believe the most plausible lie that delivers the perspective it needs to get the job done – the job in this case being to answer its emotions’ needs. Confirmation bias is one name for this.

But if a person strictly embraces Reason, including critical thinking, rational skepticism, and a requirement for truly defensible evidence, then one will see reality more and more as it truly is, which will force our brains to drop any previous “fake evidence”, re-opening our empathy circuits to all people as we turn to do the more difficult job of facing our true fears instead of deflecting them onto others.

Politicians and the greedy rich work the same way: They each want money and power for themselves, but that usually comes with a cost to those they are turning their backs on, but they *really* want that money and power, so their brains become exceedingly and unreasonably open to even the flimsiest case that there’s nothing morally wrong with denying the needy their help – like the conservative idea that the reason that poor people exist is that they obviously aren’t willing to work hard.

But again, if true reason is reintroduced, that fake proof pops like a balloon, leaving the brain no choice but to feel empathy again for the needy.

We DO need people to be more empathic, but the only way to get them there is to get them to give up their Unreason so that the empathic blocks they have subconsciously placed can fall.

The promotion and embrace of reason is therefore literally the promotion and embrace of empathy too. The only reason so many can’t see this is because they don’t want to – because they are happy limiting their empathy to the very few they currently allow themselves to feel for. Or to put another way, embracing reason means putting every sacred thought at risk, and most just want to believe what they want to believe.

But if we want to give more than lip service towards growing compassion globally, we have to lead by example, by being willing to embrace reason fully ourselves, and then by promoting the idea that others should do the same.

Because Reason is the road to Empathy.