DR BELINDA KHONG LLB (HONS), PHD,
DARE WE TALK ABOUT RESPONSIBILITY IN THE SAME BREATH AS RIGHTS AND COMPASSION
DATE & TIME; TUES 20 APRIL, 2021 ; 4-6 PM
VENUE: PARKES ROOM, LEVEL, 7, NSW PARLIAMENT HOUSE, 6 MACQUARIE STREET, SYDNEY
In this talk, I examine the question of why and how the current practice of rights, compassion and responsibility are inadequate in addressing social problems. There is a tendency to treat rights, compassion and responsibility as disparate phenomena, rather than as interrelated, e.g., granting more rights without requiring the recipients to take reciprocal responsibility. The lack of reciprocity could have many psychological effects on the recipientsâ€”engendering a sense of entitlement, learned helplessness or loss of dignity. I offer a psychological perspective on responsibility, rights and compassion grounded on the Buddhaâ€™s teachings, Daseinsanalysis (Existential Therapy) and Martin Heideggerâ€™s philosophy. I argue that the psychological needs of the recipients have to be taken into account in the formulation of social policies, and that rights and compassion have to be complemented with personal and social responsibility. If individuals, governments and community leaders appreciate that poverty and personal aspirations, sense of entitlement and gratitude, empowerment and dependency are intrinsically linked, and respond appropriately, they can provide a circuit breaker for the vicious cycle of learned helplessness and an erosion of human dignity that often perpetuate human suffering and social problems.