By Robert Wuthnow
Robert Wuthnow reveals that those people who are such a lot concerned with acts of compassion aren't any much less individualistic than an individual else--and that people who are the main intensely individualistic are not any much less fascinated with taking good care of others. Robert Wuthnow reveals that people who find themselves such a lot concerned about acts of compassion are not any much less individualistic than somebody else--and that people who are the main intensely individualistic aren't any much less thinking about taking good care of others.
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Each seems to have cared so much for the other that he confessed rather than protecting himself by keeping his mouth shut. But wait, this interlocutor would caution. What you did not realize was that the sheriff is an extraordinarily clever person. With each prisoner he made a separate deal. If you confess and the other guy does not, you will go free and he will receive a sentence of ten years in jail. If he confesses and you do not, you will get the ten-year sentence and he will go free. If you both confess, you will each receive a five-year sentence.
In this respect Jack Casey is not what the critics of our society have in mind when they suggest we need to reform. Their ideal of the kind of person who will make our society a better place is a person whose individualism has been more deeply chastened by the needs of other people. They have in mind someone with genuine attachments to the community rather than the Lone Ranger who rides through town in an orange-andwhite van with the siren blaring. They would want to know 28 C A R I N G A N D/F O R O U R S E L V E S whether a truly caring person could be as intensely individualistic as Jack Casey or whether he or she would have to temper that individualism in order to form secure and supportive attachments.
These pursuits are all issues that deserve our attention, for they structure much of our thinking about the possibility of being compassionate in a self-interested world. But in the end, we must return to the question of society itself. We must ask, does caring for others primarily help “our selves,” as individuals, or can it also help “ourselves,” as a society? 46 PART II LANGUAGES OF COMPASSION CHAPTER THREE Talking about Motives N OT LONG AGO a local newspaper carried the story of an elderly woman who made quilts.