SOS: Where is Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy?
SOS: Where is Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy?
Not a day goes by that you do not read, hear or watch on your television, tablet or mobile phone about some disaster going on in the world. We are constantly being bombarded with breaking news stories, alerts and notifications of tragic events like shootings, stabbings, rapes, fire, poisoning… and the list goes on and on. Where are the news stories about kindness, caring compassion and empathy that people and organizations do on a daily basis? It is a rare occasion… sometimes on a “slow news day” or used as a filler, that a “feel good” story is broadcast, like when a community got together to buy a car for a man who walked to work every day. There is a concept in psychology called operant conditioning. In a nutshell, operant conditioning (sometimes called instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that happens through rewards and punishments for behavior. To strengthen a behavior you get rewarded for doing something, and if you do not get rewarded that behavior eventually stops. Currently all the various methods of media are rewarding violence and trauma. I’m not saying we ought to ban this information, however if you only show this type of behavior it encourages copycat behavior. We have seen this through the school shootings since Columbine. The Post found an average of 10 school shootings per year since Columbine, with a low of five in 2002 and a high of 15 in 2014. Less than three months into 2018, there have been 11 shootings, already making this year among the worst on record. Also this year, we’ve seen the mass murders in Parkland, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. In a 2014 FBI report officials say they believe many shooters are inspired by past killings and the resulting notoriety. “The copycat phenomenon is real,” Andre Simons of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit said at the time. “As more and more notable and tragic events occur, we think we’re seeing more compromised, marginalized individuals who are seeking inspiration from those past attacks.” Yet, the dreadful news continues to fill our news feeds. Before the 70’s , your news was limited to TV, radio and newsprint and furthermore was usually limited to your local area. Worldwide news was shown in movie theaters in the form of Newsreels. If you heard of someone being injured in your community, it was the norm to talk about it, share it and then through individual and community efforts to help one another. These actions and behavior was reinforced and rewarded through the same form of media, such as the local newspaper wrote about the heroic acts and deeds of an individual or community organization. Not a day went by where you would read and often heard on local radio or TV of a disaster or tragedy to be followed by a lengthy coverage of kindness, caring, compassion and empathy by a person or organization helping out. This kind of coverage encouraged and promoted kind, caring, compassionate and empathic “copycats”. People would publicity receive, monetary gifts and general acknowledgment for their time and effort. Since the 70’s worldwide events, such as Vietnam War, Earthquakes and Natural Disasters and the graphic violence of Isis, are reported on TV, radio and all our mobile devices. And now we get hourly updates of these events through breaking news alerts and notifications. We are overloaded with violence and trauma. Along with this we are reinforcing and rewarding with publicity violent behaviors and encouraging copycat behavior.
Reward Positive Copycats: – The “I Care Movement”
The focus of this blog is to start an “I Care Movement.” We need send the message that there are more people who are kind, caring, compassionate and empathic that are never shown in the spotlight of mass media. Let us join together to encourage local, national and international radio, TV, newsprint, and social media that there is a “I Care Movement.” Please call, write, post to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and every method you know to share acts of Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy. By doing so, we can change the world from the current violence and trauma. No, we can’t change hurricanes and other natural disasters, yet we can help those who have been affected by them. I, with my friend’s permission, would like to share the kindness and devotion of one of my close friends. She has two cousins and a niece with a medical condition, who are at home, along with a recent friend sent home after a medical procedure with no one to care for her. My friend works for a family business yet finds the time to run errands for her two cousins, who do not live near each other, along with providing childcare for her niece with a medical condition. Yet, she still found time to care and advocate for her elderly friend who was sent home after eye surgery unable to open her eyes which were swollen shut. The doctors never asked if she would be safe alone in her home, nor did they prescribe rehab or personal care for this elderly woman. My friend finds time to be there for her friend, as she does for her cousins and niece. She does this out of the Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy. She truly understands….“I Care”. She is not alone…. there are other individuals, groups and organization that do NOT charge or get paid for their Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy, because they all understand and live… “I Care”. I was complaining to a friend that here it is months later and there are still over 138,000 people in Puerto Rico without power and no one seems to care. Another woman overheard me and said that is not true. She explained that her husband is in the military and he is currently there helping the people of Puerto Rico. My reply is I didn’t know that. Why isn’t the act of Kindness, Caring, Compassion and Empathy in this situation being reported in the news or social media? I thanked her and told her I would share the news that people are helping people in such an awful tragedy. Another friend of mine has cancer and she has a cancer buddy, who freely gives of her time to take my friend to her cancer treatments. These acts of kindness, caring, compassion and empathy are not reported in the local newspaper or even known on social media. Most of these people do not do these acts of kindness to be publicly recognized. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Yet this is the type of behavior we need to reward, not violent, cruel, mean behavior.
Request For Change – “I Care”
I’m writing this blog to ask, request, beg for all of you to respond to this “I care” movement, and to write or call your local newspaper, local and national radio and television stations, and to promote the “I Care” movement through the various social media outlets. If you want to make a change and promote kindness, caring, compassion and empathy, we need to get it out there, so there will be more kind, caring, compassionate, and empathetic copycats! Please write, report, photograph, video, post and promote acts of kindness, caring, compassion and empathy. Please let this be the norm. If we do, we are promoting this behavior, while helping the side effects of violence, trauma and constant stress, which is anxiety, depression, sleep problems and addictions to shut out all these other feelings.
You through your very act of sharing acts of kindness, caring, compassion and empathy and by being a positive copycat by your own behavior. You can make a difference in the World. Will you join me?
THERE IS A WAY!
Copyright© Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D. April 2018