I start most days reading the latest pieces of research on the brain and behavior — it’s my daily geek reading.
And in today’s geek news, researchers in Germany found that three-year-olds express deep empathy for someone who has suffered an injustice. The children in this study actually, when given a choice, decided it was more important to make things right for the sufferer than to punish the one who caused the harm.
Chew on this one for a bit: Three-year-olds have a sense of justice that leads them to compassion and not punishment.
The last few days have been sad and disheartening — feels like a young man punishing people out of pure hatred and bigotry in a place that historically symbolizes hope for equality and compassion, sets our country back 200 years.
I am not sure how we climb out of this. But I do know this:
Through words, with actions, and by example we all need to stop re-writing that predisposition to care for each other — we must feed and reward compassion and empathy or this madness will never stop.
From the study mentioned above:
“The take-home message is that preschool children are sensitive to harm to others, and given a choice would rather restore things to help the victim than punish the perpetrator.” from study Three-year-olds Help Victims of Injustice”
My friend, author Amy Wise, said this yesterday and I agree.
Nobody is born a bigot. Children are wise until they are taught otherwise. Teach wisely. Please.
We have to tip the balance somehow. Quickly.