úterý 6. července 2010

"Social Intelligence" and "Emotional Intelligence"

by Daniel Goleman
Both are recommended, and both have surprising intersections with social justice, albeit with the subject matter of Social Intelligence lending itself more naturally to collective issues. The links to them are Here and Here. The bottom line is that we are set up to be social beings, who thrive or die based on the level of support from the community that we receive. There are several systems at work in our brains, a Low Road that's based on instinctual and impulsive responses and a High Road that can defuse the Low Road through critical thought about situations, as well as a sort of social brain that's tuned into how other people respond to us in our daily lives. If we receive emotional support we can not only feel better about ourselves as people, more connected, less alienated, but can also defuse our Low Road, which otherwise disengaged can lead to selfish and in fact psychopathic behavior. The message is that our current economy praises the Low Road: people get ahead by being mean and vicious, not being sensitive to others' needs but instead pursuing their own self interest and their own sadism above anything else. One could say that our culture breeds psychopaths, in the boardroom as well as in the streets, as the book "American Psycho" by Brett Easton Ellis so lovingly portrays. And what about our streets? We're breeding a culture of people desensitized to violence who are encouraged to pig out on the sexual stimulation of porn at every juncture, leading to a warped sensibility about women and about the world in general. We're teaching them that violence and selfishness is cool, that it's gangster, with the biggest consumers of gangster rap not being folks from the inner city itself but from the suburbs who are white and come from privileged backgrounds. Consumerism feeds instant gratification, which compromises our impulse control, helping make us servants of desire instead of its master.

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