Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
5-5-5 The eighth day of 30
Mood:  lazy
Now Playing: Yes we can ! - (repeat) - Yes we can !
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance

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5 Things I did that day

1. Figured out the washing maching problem - If I set it and leave it, it will work fine, if I touch the dial or mess with the settings once it has started it glitches and so do I (LOL) - I do nothing and its fixed. So I washed another 5 loads of everything I could find

2. I spent endless seeming hours outside (all day) - mostly n the sunshine - listening to Mt Hood Jazz 89.1 FM (radio streaming link)

3. Assitsed Stephan in clearing my side desk for this big fish 50 gallon tank he installing in my room - Today Steph cleaned the tank really good outside n the front yard and the tank is now in my room (big plans he has)

4. Drove 10 miles this afternoon to get my 2 big bags of sawdust [FREE] from my woodworking cabinet making / connection for using on my compost system(s) and for sprinkling on the trails out at Shady Grove - This guy has an endless supply of sawdust for me - heck I could go into the compost cover-up supply business

5. Folding tons of clothes in the evening - listened to OPB radio world news & old time radio programs on the computer and then fell asleep watching old B/W TV shows on YouTube --> like Charlie Chan and Dragnet

5 Ideas & reoccurring thoughts of mine

1.  https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/people-often-think-their-gut-s-not-ideal-pandemic-n1179926 Pandemic decision-making: Why Humans aren't wired to understand the coronavirus

2. The curve seems to be getting flatter - so I hear - no large events till end of summer .... that is the rumble I hear in the news chatter, i wonder if that applies to Portland and my job 

3. Around noon I get a notification to check out the news on the COVID from the video news site "DW" - here is the 14 min YouTube video link (info on strict quarantines and threats to Democracy in Germany and Europe and other UK countires) (Also some Conspiracy Theorie info on the new 5G transmissions is at end of clip #Anti5G ) -->  https://youtu.be/uDTEscXp1Po

4. Doing random moments of quite meditation and relaxation to ease the stress and wash away the anxity - need to perfect my zen patience tollerance thresholds and just go with the flow 

5. The ducks have both been stopping in and out throughout the day but I also noticed less little birds lately ove the past few days - who knows why - I do have a couple wood peckers knocking away on the telephone pole.


5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

1. Picture of a cherry tree in bloom in the back yard - you can see a squirrel is in the middle of my picture - probably eyeing my bird feeder

2. Picture of a big 2 foot by 3 foot drain in my back yard - works perfect with the washer. The drain probably is there due to the pool in the back yard.

3. Wind chimes I made that took me a few hours to construct (it) was more detailed and intricate than I imagined even with these Simple Instructions I found here

4. The ready to go - empty fish tank in my room (stay tuned)

5. A bird bath I got of Craigslist for FREE - It is big beautiful and heavy (it has a small leak) I will fix that - I do like it in my front yard but I bet I drag it up to Shady Grove

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 April 2020 12:50 PM PDT
Tuesday, 7 April 2020
5-5-5 The seventh day of 30
Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: Will May 1st be the break we are ALL waiting for ?
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance



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5 Things I did that day

1. Got up around 10 AM read some news articles -&- checked my email 

2. Sat around in the back yard - seemed like all day - the sun was nice- I moved inside once the sun went down around 7:30

3. Organized some of my file drawers inside my room - found some old good stuff

4. Listened to some old time radio - this one wasnt to bad 30 mins on YouTube

"The Spencer Brothers" • Classic Western Tale • SUSPENSE   https://youtu.be/UAL9UBwOllk

5. Day dreaming of going to Shady Grove - but things still on hold for various reason(s) - Hope to get up there next week [if not sooner]

5 Ideas & reoccurring thoughts of mine

1. GITMO is still open with 45 people still locked up with no rights given to them and torture tactic being used and allowed due to no oversight, lies and loopholes. This is insane https://mailchi.mp/closeguantanamo/coronavirus-and-guantanamo

The home page for this group who is working hard for human rights at GITMO is here https://www.closeguantanamo.org/

2. The washing machie worked for about a dozen loads and now it seems it is locked in constant draining (damn) - might as well as take a look deeper to isolate the problem - (Im not doing anything else cant hurt to pretend to be a washer repair guy for a while) 

3. I raked up a bunch of the slippery leaves and flowers from the Magnolia tree - in front of the house and on the porch, it looks much better now (LOL at least for a while till the wind blows)

4. I'm hearing and reading things of hope for May 1st regarding the virus / economy

5. This stay at home is teaching us all how to be patient and at peace with ourselves, when confined and doing nothing day after day. 


5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

1. This picture is: the outside urinal that drains into the compost bin. It drains into Picture #two  - I made this little private area in the back corner of the yard, right by the pool pump equipment. I ran a gutter down sout into the compost bin which is 2 feet way, The other end of that gutter I put a funnel for the user to access as seen in this picture. When done using the homemade urinal, the user takes the spray bottle to spritz a couple sprays of Vinegar water into the funnel which kills the smell. This little system (off grid style) of mine as been going for over 2 years and is not smelly or gross in the slightest bit, with this urinal style set up... I have saved 1,000 of gallons of water (LOL) - dont tell my neighbors

2. The humanure compost bin - This is a two bin sytem....The bin on the left was used for 1 year and now is no longer getting any new product ((beside the feed from the urinal by way of the gutter / funnel set up)) - This bin on the left, sits covered in straw for one year - the contents will break down to composted dirt. (wow) to use around the flower beds, the bin on the right is the one in use now - after one year of dumping buckets into it (the one on the right) (from the compsot toilet set up we have) this bin will then sit for one year with no new product and it will be covered in straw as well. This (off grid) humanure system has worked fine for two years so far... it has no odor no flies no stinking smells at all. There must of been over 10,000 flushes saved by using this system. This bucket system is a simple toilet seat on a bucket - use it for going #1 and #2 then cover up your business by using cups of sawdust. You do this till the bucket is full after a couple weeks - when full you dump it into the outside bin and cover with straw. The bucket in use (with the seat on it) covered in sawdust DOES NOT SMELL - its amazing and hard to belive. We have been doing this for about 2 years now. I do still have my regular toile. 

3. A free work light that was found on my walk yesterday - this baby works fine!

4. My morning coffee and toast and toasted in the backyard around 11AM

5. These sticks will bloom beautifull red / orange flowers in summer, The bees and hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is in the back yard and looks like its just some sticks now - LOL ...years ago I ripped a bunch of these bush (sticks) out when cleaning & weeding up .... not knowing it was a beautiful bush (yikes)

Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:46 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 April 2020 10:45 PM PDT
Monday, 6 April 2020
5-5-5 The sixth day of 30
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Free Stuff - Free Chalk Love - Free 5-5-5 blog
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance

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5 Things I did that day

1. Got up around 8 AM and lounged around inside till noon, drinking coffe and surfing the web with my feet up

2. Lee and me took a walk in the afternoon for about 4 blocks

3. Got the old washer in the backyard all hooked up and working (cold water)

4. Went with Lee to Albertsons and got some fried chicken and a 6 pack of beer, we sat in the back yard as the sun went down

5. Listened (too much killing n shooting - Im glad I didnt watch this) to the movie Tombstone (2 hr cowboy movie) in the background - while I woked on this 555 blog around 10 pm at night - Them Tombstone days were some mean times - glad I missed out on all that type of stealing / shooting / killing in a pathetic western style

5 Ideas & reoccurring thoughts of mine

1. I was given an article A Guide for Activists on Stay-in-Place Orders

....to read and think about you can check it out: here is the related link

2. I keep thinking good positive thoughts about this whole virus - cant wait to see my predictions come true and we start pulling out of this funky-COVID-madina

3. I am on pins and needles awiting to read the offical PAM (work) update... regarding unemployment or using sick time hours and for the estimated time we will be shut down.

4. The ducks are back every day..... and still not using my cool nest area I made for em

5. Im cleaning an area (side desk space) - (slowly!!) in my room to put a fish tank that Steph has and wants me to be the host. I said yes if he maintains the tank. - More cleaning and prep work is required but light in this (project) tunnel is slowly getting brighter


5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

1. My neighbors did some chalking in front of their house

2. My neighbors chalk drawing - I like this saying "We are all in this together"

3. The washer in the back yard that works and - now we (household) are all washing our clothes like its going to banned tomorrow (LOL) we have been w/o a washer for a while in true hippie style

4. Another free box (paper towels bread food items) was out in front of another neighbors - wow - spread the love not the virus

5. A picture of a little store in my neighborhood, cute little store - I havent been to this store inyears ..its only 3 blocks from my house - this store has been in this neighborhood for over 20 years (I think)








Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:25 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 April 2020 11:26 AM PDT
Sunday, 5 April 2020
5-5-5 The fifth day of 30
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: Anarchy - Veneauela and The Greatful Dead
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance

5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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5 Things I did that day

1. Fed the birds and made (bent and twisted) a wire mesh 4 x 8 inch bird food holder so i can put some of that homemade bird suet cakes into it - Im trying to keep the squirles from eating / destroying the bird food into oblivion.

2. Picked up two section and a gate of old fencing from Craigslist for Free - Taking it to Shady Grove to use in some re-purpose practicle way

3. Drove 10 miles to get a Free Hockey /Foose-Ball type table from off Craigslist...  but somebody beat me to it and was loading it up when I arrived 

4. Went to the store in the morning - watched some TV (Manix Dective SHow) - and listend to some World news in the backyard with the birds n ducks on the ShortWave Report

5. Relaxed and listened to music in the backyard and in my room 


5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine

1. The the ShortWave Report had some information that I was relieved to hear but probably means nothing to US shady politics regarding Venezuela = The report mentions the UN office on Drugs states he has never ever hard of Venezuela being involved with drug dealing listen to him speak at 15:20 in the Shortwave program for 4/3/20 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2020/04/438397.shtml

2. The Corona Beer company (made in Mexico) has shut down due to the Mexican governement saying it was Essential. Heck I just took a picture yesterday of my bottle fo rthis 5-5-5 blog and now they say its not gonna be available!?

3. Sure a lot of people being nice and smiling and oing family stuff together where ever I go it seem like there is good vibes and kindness

4. Planning on going to Shady Grove - the weather is gonna be GREAT - but want to know aboutmy current job status before I head to teh woods. Might keave for Mon and Tuesday nights - wish I knew if I need to file for unemployement or what is next for my income 

5. I seen 2 signs today ...that said the same thing, that I liked:

      "We are all in this together"


5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others


1. Grateful Dead Mask

2. TP clown Alert picture

3. Free fencing picture from Craigslist

4. A for anarchy (picture is from downtown Portland) (I like a lot about this topic the more I learn about its beliefs and the history and the way that anarchist treat each other is intriguing) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchy

5. FIRE ON THE MOUNTIAN - Grateful Dead Picture - Listen to and watch this music video - Bill Walton is the narrator - Get the Big Screen turned on and crank it up -  (its a great video)







Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:00 PM PDT
Saturday, 4 April 2020
5-5-5 The fourth day of 30
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Saturday still waiting for the sun shine
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance

5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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5 Things I did that day,

1. I watched this 1 hour and 30 minute old western cowboy movie on YouTube - the main actor I like. You can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EER3YdFlMCE 

2. Chilly outside - spent most of the day inside 

3. I made a duck nest for the 2 ducks and since its completed I havent seen them use it yet

4. Hung out with Lee for an hour when he got home from work

5. I watched some more tv shows (comedy)  - went to the store - went to bed early



5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine,

1. Trump said today that 40,000 USA citizens were allowed to return to America from afar. Thats probably a relief for them and their families

2. Deaths are still GOING UP....BUT...we are also hoping to see less new cases

3. I keep dreaming of doing some work up at Shady Grove ...mostly it would be working on the cabin - But the last couple weeks it has been to cold and Im too broke to go up there right now

4. I have NOT done mine but I will do it ASAP -- THE CENSUS - If you want some information on whats it all about and the process for it, then please check out this informative RACE TALKS video I filmed ....that explains a lot https://youtu.be/I857e-ZnRGw

5. Think Good Thoughts - Play Some Music  Innocent

5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

1. Big Bag of Bird food I bought (just in case supplies dwindle like TP)

2. Bird Food Suet Mix that I recently made

3. Duck nest I built - not sure if it is gonna be home sweet home or not 

4. A 32 oz Corna Beer I drank today #yummy

5. Picture of my backyard set-up for the 6 ft Social Distance gathering on Friday











Posted by Joe Anybody at 1:47 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 April 2020 11:06 PM PDT
Friday, 3 April 2020
5-5-5 The third day of 30
Mood:  lazy
Now Playing: Friday in Parkrose
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance

5-5-5 The third day of 30

5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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5 Things I did that day

1. Slept in till 11 am - I should really appreciate the extra sleep if I was at work it would be my lunch time :) When I get up I check the comments for moderating, daily on Portland Indymedia http://portland.indymedia.org/ and make sure that the site is up n running (if its down I notify a co-worker / indymedia workerbee)

2. Two friends are stopping by today around 3pm - we have our social distance backyard all set up. We need to socialize a bit ( we all are healty) and will be doing it with a 6 foot buffer outside

3. Spent 6 hours inthe backyard- BBQ some hot links and made a fire for the 3 person (6ft distance) gathering

4. Watched a documentry on the 70s rock band ZZ Top with Lee it was interesting

5. Went to bed around 1 AM - long day


5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine

1. You gotta love the Cuban Doctors (no matter what the USA will tell you)

Cuban doctors fighting coronavirus around world, defying US https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/other/cuban-doctors-fighting-coronavirus-around-world-defying-us/ar-BB127Yzx

2. Here is an interesting article with 8 tips / suggestions - I liked the information

8 Things People Diagnosed With Coronavirus Want You To Know


3. Read an interesting article about the RENT and MORTGAGE debacle - it seems with the possible rent forgiveness and mortgage forbearance blah blah blah...that at the end of the tunnel....Wall Street and the Bankswill end up with everything HA - go figure - That was driving force of OCCUPY WALL STREET protests... But the mayors around the country used their police minions to shut it down. Good Grief. If Wall Streets ends up with everything it wouldnt suprise me unless we as concerned citizens stand up together ...the 99% https://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-leaders-rent-mortgage-waivers/

4. I recomend this weekly podcast, its posted on Portland Indymedia and it is called THE SHORTWAVE RADIO REPORT. Its a shortwave news (anti war) report from various countries - Non corporate news - very enlighteningand its FREE http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2020/04/438397.shtml

5. Given time and with luck we dont catch the virus - I am optimistic this all will pass. Think Good Thoughts! 

5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

1. Veterans For Peace - Mike Hastie from Portlands photo

2. Peace sign image I got from the Sandy Peace Vigil (on Highway 26 near Sandy Oregon)

3. A new sign on the Plaid Pantry all night store by my house

4. The propane fire we had durring the evening

5. Picture from a couple weeks ago after it just hailed big size kernels











Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 April 2020 1:27 PM PDT
Thursday, 2 April 2020
5-5-5 The second day of 30
Mood:  chillin'
Now Playing: wiating for the sun for some backyard fun
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance


 Look forward to the upcoming 5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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5 Things I did that day:

1.  I had my very affordable $1.29 TV breakfast ....and coffee outside with the ducks and birds around 11 AM (slivers of sun and clouds and rain)

2.  I made an outdoor tarped area to sit under and stay dry due to the never-ending rain

3. Hanged around and talked with Lee most the day - he went to work at 5:30 PM

4. In the evening I watched some old 60-70s shows like MANIX and HIGHWAY PATROL https://youtu.be/6RhJ5_PPjVM  Watched it on youtube {for a few hours}        - I watched some news in the morning 

5. I made my bird food suet mix this evening - It now will sit in the freezer till tomorrow (pictures coming tomorrow) This is my second batch of making this. The birds love it and its easy, cheap and fun to mix up and put out and watch the feast begin.


5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine:

1. I really like that the virus situation is making us all think of life in new ways, ways that we never even considered, and I am seeing glimmers of hope that if we all work together we can solve world problems in solidarity

2. Many of the things we do and spend our time money and energy on, by great numbers here in America, are just luxury time wasting self gratification things (in my opinion) ...maybe in this social distancing reflective time, when we cant be "doing all the frills and thrills" that America constantly offers us all 24-7 around the clock non-stop ....we can maybe relaize that we sure spend lots of money and work involved for fluff n puff (material things) that really seem to be cheap and meaningless like a throw away toy. I think we put to much energy and money into mindless crap that when its not around causes the masses to go stirr crazy.

3. My job might be shut down till August - If I can use my sick pay I will be covered... if not then Oh Boy...  If things go sour I might be doing a virtual unemployment application. (but) I am pretty sure that I will be able to use my 500 hours of saved up sick pay Sealed - I hope to know more next week. Currently Im getting paid (to stay home) up till 4-15-20

4. All the Venezuela (Drug Dealing Blah Blah Blah) news you hear from US Corporate Media is Lies and False Information - It is horrible what the US is doing to this Latin America Country. The drug charges are lies and the fake president the USA supports in their filed coup is a crook. I heard we were sending a Navy boat to float off thier shore. GO HOME YANKEES!

5. My car tags expired on 3/31/20 - I believe I now have a 3 month grace period - Because DMV is closed and I also read that the police are not going to ticket expired tags and drivers licenses cases ...Hahaha - they never should of in the first place. Cops used to hassle you for pot, Ha - not no more... They used to hassle you for tags ...haha not no more either. In my opinion they are doing better now that they leave their money grabbing noses out of non violent people business - heck courts are closed and jails are letting low level imates out Ha!.... I LOVE IT .... They never should of beeen ramping up all this police state stuff in the first place. Save the police for dealing with real crimes and troubles seems like a smart useof our tax dollars, I like the new way they are operating (So Far Anyway)

5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others:

1. Picture of my new tarped sitting area in the back yard

2. Another view of the hugh tarped sitting area in my backyard

3. Picture of my cheap breakfast (more of a snack) that is worth the price 

4. Picture of the clean (FREE) new BBQ - Lee washed it today - it works fine

5. Zen Garden picture I saved, that I found online











Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:04 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 April 2020 9:18 PM PDT
Wednesday, 1 April 2020
APRIL FOOLS 5-5-5 The first day of 30
Mood:  blue
Now Playing: COVID and Social Distancing - Ducks Arrive - Day 1
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance


 Look forward to the upcoming 5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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5 Things I did today:

  1. Looked for and then took pictures throughout the day, for my new 5-5-5 blog
  2. Listened to podcast while working on my 5-5-5 blog
  3. Had 2 teeth pulled THAT WERE KILLING ME (nobody at the dentist but me} and it only took 40 mins to do it. Been up for hours at night the past 3 days.
  4. I bought 4 dollars worth of bird seed, varity of nuts, and oats to make some homemeade bird suet. This is my second time making these suet cakes that the birds just LOVE as well as the pesky squirls
  5. Watched old western videos on youtube - stayed inside sipping a beer while relaizing I am glad I have 2 teeth missing 



5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine:

  1.  I wanted to share this podcast that I listened to today:

    How Coronavirus Is Scrambling Our Politics.  On how simple advice like avoiding handshakes plays into old ideological divides. https://megaphone.link/ATL3231449415

  2. I heard good news this morning 4/1/20 on the corporate media news, that the Oregon Hosipitals "are prepared" for any rise in COVID cases, so far its not rapidily growing. The fact theu are "prepared is good news"
      3. The social distancing may take at least 30 more day:
       4. The way people are treating others is new and encouraging, the way this virus is forcing us to work together is actually improving our love, repect and compassion for each other. There seems to be an understanding by most, that these times are rough for many folks, and it is causing us to re-evaluate and tweek our current system in how we charge people or provide needed service. I like what I am seeing in that respect.
         5. I cant believe how fast n easy the dentist lady (Kaiser Sunnsyside officce) pulled my 2 teeth #wow The bad ones were located on the lower back area of my mouth. No pain in the removal process and it was fast - and no bill - I can pay it later - I picked up my perscription 10 minutes later by driving up to the Kaiser pharmacy and it was hand delivered to me inmy truck - pay later on that one to!



5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others:

 1 picture close up of one of the ducks in my backyard

2. picture of the Magnolia tree in my front yard

3. picture of "no toilet paper" still going on - 4/1/20 at WINCO in Portland Ore

4. picture of the empty waiting room at the dentist office today

5. picture of the lamp above the dental chair 








Posted by Joe Anybody at 1:33 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 April 2020 9:17 PM PDT
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Mood:  down
Now Playing: Stay At Home & Shut The Door and 5-5-5 Social Distance
Topic: 5-5-5 Social Distance


 Its April Fools Day 2020 in the morning Sealed

This is No Joke  (unfortunatly)

Today 3/31/2020 I thought ... "Hey why not post some stuff I am doing or thinking of while we all are stuck at home

 It would be kind of .... "WHAT DID JOE DO ALL DAY" entries at the end of the day

.....While I am doing nothing all day you can see that, just by looking at this Zebra 3 Report

I am planing on doing a daily 5 - 5 - 5 format.... starting on 4/1/20

5 Things I did that day,

5 Ideas & reoccuring thoughts of mine,

5 Pictures of things I have seen or want to pass along to others

There will also be other sorts of muses and tidbits in this new daily Zebra 3 Report

I will do this as long as I can, and I hope it has some value to somebody at sometime

Just for fun ..... Here is a picture (for example) from 3 31 2020 of 2 ducks who are chilling in my backyard by the pool. Two ducks that looked just like these two, did this last year too. Not sure if they are the same ones

 Look forward to the upcoming 5-5-5 Social Distance Joe Anybody Zebra 3 Report

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Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:57 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 April 2020 9:15 PM PDT
Sunday, 14 April 2019
Article: Does Empathy Have A Dark Side?
Mood:  sharp
Now Playing: Empathy seems like a good quality in human beings.

Does Empathy

Have A Dark Side?


April 12, 201911:43 AM ET




Christina Chung for NPR

Empathy seems like a good quality in human beings. Pure and simple.

It allows us to consider the perspective of others — to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine their experiences. From that empathetic vantage point, only good things can come, right?

Not necessarily, according to author Fritz Breithaupt. "Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy," he writes in his forthcoming book The Dark Sides of Empathy.

Listen: The End of Empathy Episode 6 of Invisibilia's Season 5 tells the same story twice in order to examine the questions: Who deserves our empathy? And is there a wrong way to empathize?

Listen here.


Breithaupt, who directs the Experimental Humanities Lab at Indiana University, argues that empathy is a morally ambiguous capacity, one that can lead us astray if we don't understand its many sides.

"Empathy is a riddle," Breithaupt says. While it can enrich our lives, Breithaupt says our ability to identify with others' feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships, like helicopter parenting.

Breithaupt, who reviews the cultural and scientific history of empathy in his book, explains that empathy is a relatively new concept. The term only emerged in 1909, when it was translated from a German conception of "feeling yourself into a work of art," he says. In the past 40 years, it has risen to prominence as evolutionary biologists started to explore its role in shaping the human brain. Since then, it's become a core psychological concept, and part of what biologists think makes us distinctly human.


Since empathy is baked into our very being, Breithaupt argues that we must be aware of the good and bad it can enable. NPR's Jonathan Lambert spoke with him about empathy's biological and moral dimensions.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How does science define empathy, and what light does that shed on on more philosophical conceptions of it?

For a while neuroscientists thought there was an empathy center in the brain, some little spot somewhere. They thought we could understand this spot and then understand empathy.

But then they came to a much larger realization: Empathy is not in one place in our brains; it's everywhere. Imaging studies showed that we use every part of the brain both for our own actions, our own feelings, but also for the observation of other people. So basically the whole brain does empathy.

That changes a lot of things. It shows us that empathy affects all our thinking. It's with us every moment.

I think that means that empathy is so important to us that it's something we can't neglect. Yes, we're biologically primed for it, but we also have to cultivate it, and cultivation is something that can [be a] lifelong learning task. It never ends.

The Dark Sides of Empathy

by Fritz Breithaupt

Paperback, 258 pages

purchase book here

So science seems to suggest that empathy is sort of baked into our being. I think most people might assume that's a good thing. Why is it not necessarily?

I'm not going to try to convince you to say that empathy is bad or that we should be against empathy. I think it's fundamental for us. It's absolutely something that we have to understand to know how we operate.

I also think that in most cases empathy does more good than bad things. I want to put it in proportion — there are dark sides to empathy.

People assume that empathy is good because it is good for the recipient of empathy — I'm actually skeptical about this.

Empathy might be a little bit more selfish than many people assume. The empathizer feels less alone, they share experiences, they learn something. So we should ask for whom is [empathy] good? It's actually the empathizer in most cases.

How is empathy good for the empathizer?

Beings without empathy live in their own world. They can't really understand that other beings are out there with minds of their own. But beings with empathy understand that there are all these different minds around [that] have different experiences and different feelings. They can participate in them. Someone with empathy lives more than one life. Of course, sometimes that means that you have to carry the suffering of others, but in many cases their joy becomes your joy. So it's a richer, much more complex life. And in that sense, of course empathy is wonderful for you.

But there's a flip side too, right? In your book you talk about something you call "vampiristic empathy." What do you mean by that?

Vampiristic empathy is a form of empathy where people want to manipulate the people they empathize with so that they can, through them, experience the world in such a way that they really enjoy it.

An extreme case of this is helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents are constantly trying to steer their kids in the directions they think are the right directions. Of course they want the best for their children. Very understandable; I have kids and I want what's best for them too.

But I think there's something else seeping in. There's this sort of living along with the kids, imagining how it must be like to have a life that's marked by successes, where obstacles disappear and life can be enjoyed. But that also means that the parents are co-experiencing that life, so they start taking over ... they basically want to use the child almost as a pawn.

In a sense, extreme helicopter parents are robbing their kids of a selfhood so that they can basically project their own self into these kids.

You write that empathy can actually make us more polarized instead of bringing us together. How can that happen?

People imagine that empathy can help resolve tensions in cases of conflict, but very often empathy is exactly that thing that leads to the extremes, that polarizes people even more.

It can happen this way, be it a family feud or something that escalates to a civil war. Humans are very quick to take sides. And when you take one side, you take the perspective of that side. You can see the painful parts of that perspective and empathize with them, and that empathy can fuel seeing the other side as darker and darker or more dubious.

One example of this comes from Northern Ireland, which has a long history of conflict. In the early 2000s school administrators there tried to resolve the conflict between the Catholic and Protestant youth by bringing empathy into the curriculum.

They emphasized that students would learn both sides, and the atrocities committed by one side or the other were always put into context. Students learned this curriculum, but follow-up studies showed that this new generation was more polarized than the one before.

So what this group had internalized was there's always two sides and, in the end, they know their side. So they reorganized this information to empathize with people on their side and withdraw from the other side.

So Northern Ireland had to abandon this project.

The other case is that of terrorists. I think a lot of terrorists may not lack empathy. Rather, they see some plight of a group they identify with — they see them suffering and see it as something horrible, and that becomes more extreme and activates them to become active terrorists.

Are there other downsides to empathy?

[Empathizers] may overextend themselves. If you are a medical doctor who sees a lot of suffering and pain every day, it can very quickly become too much. Something like a third of medical doctors suffer from "empathy burnout" that is so severe that it affects their functioning as doctors and their personal life. They become the victim of feeling empathy.

In the end though, doesn't empathy cause more good than harm?

In one sense, yes. Empathy is weakly correlated with altruistic behavior. So there is a connection. I do think empathy can help people help each other, and that makes us human.

My core argument here is that in many cases of altruistic help or humanitarian aid, people actually don't really empathize as much with the person in need. They identify more with the helper, the hero, the person who intervenes even if it's an imaginary helper.

It can be good when it leads to good action, but it can have downsides. For example, if you want the victims to say 'thank you.' You may even want to keep the people you help in that position of inferior victim because it can sustain your feeling of being a hero.

If you want recognition and if that doesn't come, it can turn into resentment. That's an unfortunately common impulse. On the political scale, I think it happened in Germany. In 2015 Germany opened its borders, very laudably, to refugees. Initially there was a wave of huge enthusiasm, and then suddenly a huge drop in enthusiasm and a lot of resentment.

What are your big takeaways about empathy?

I think we can learn to use empathy in a somewhat controlled way. We can learn when to block it, when to not allow empathy to be manipulated and when to fully turn it on.

Yes, we are born with empathy, but it needs constant practice [to know] when to use it and when not to use it. So the dark sides are so important to know because they teach us that in some cases you shouldn't empathize.

But when it's good, we should embrace empathy, because it can lead to such richer, fuller lives.

Jonathan Lambert is an intern on NPR's Science Desk. You can follow him on Twitter: @evolambert.

The full article is located here:




Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:20 AM PDT

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