Like many, perhaps most autistic people, I am suspicious of a lot of the work and research that Simon Baron Cohen is involved with, however sometimes he hits the nail right on the head. I recently watched a 2012 TEDx presentation by Cohen and he made some comments regarding empathy and democracy that are surely relevant today. Let me quote starting from 10:35:
10:35 “Empathy is vital for a healthy democracy; it ensures that when we listen to different perspectives, we hear other people’s emotions and we also feel them. Indeed without empathy, democracy would not be possible.”
11:46 “Empathy is our most valuable natural resource for conflict resolution. We could wait for our political leaders to use empathy – and that would be refreshing – but actually we could all use our empathy.”
If I was asked for one word to describe what is lacking in American society and politics at this time, I think I would choose the word empathy.
If you wish to watch Simon Baron Cohen’s presentation in its entirety you can find it on YouTube: The erosion of empathy | Simon Baron Cohen | TEDxHousesofParliament.