Scientists estimate that the rate of empathy conversion by Republicans should result in "a just and humane society" in the U.S. in approximately 3,400 years.
EHAVIORAL scientists at the National Institutes of Health have recorded another instance of "empathy activation" by a Republican, adding to their small but growing tally of individual Republicans who have "learned by personal experience that bad luck can happen to anyone, a key understanding to the acquisition of the human capacity for empathy."
The rare event was made even rarer by its occurrence in a public forum. The latest Republican to acquire empathy, Jeff Jeans, was a former Reagan and Bush campaigner who spoke eloquently of his personal battle with cancer at a CNN town hall featuring House Republican Paul Ryan, who is spearheading the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Jeans, a self-described "life-long Republican" and small-business owner, stated that he was willing to close his business "before I complied with this law."
"Then," Jeans recalled, "at 49, I was given six weeks to live with a very curable type of cancer . . . thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I'm standing here today alive."
A scientist at the NIH said it was "just this kind of personal experience with ill health or other misfortune that sparks empathy in Republicans." Whereas most other people "appear to be born with the capacity," Republicans, the scientist said, "need to experience some sort of bad luck either to themselves or to someone they love before their empathy is activated."
Since record-keeping began in 1936, the NIH has now recorded a total of 20,089 Republicans with sufficient empathy "to understand the pain of and communicate compassionately with complete strangers over their misfortunes."
Scientists have calculated that, at the current rate of empathy acquisition by Republicans, the U.S. should become "a just and humane society" in about 3,400 years.
"Keep in mind this is just an estimate," the NIH scientist said. "It could be slighter sooner or later than 3,400 years. But eventually, one Republican at at time, we'll get there."
© 1.13.16 Kate Heidel