I was talking to my doctor today (I’m fine, thank you–a routine visit), and he happened to ask whether I had ever fainted. I told him that I had–twice, as a matter of fact, at about age 9 and age 12. The first time, the teacher was explaining about an addict’s heroin-withdrawal symptoms. The second time, a different teacher was telling us about the torture of a political prisoner. In both cases, crash!–I fell off my chair unconscious.

My doctor said, “I guess you’re not the kind of guy they use to apply pressure down in Guantanamo.” I replied, “I don’t think there’s any connection between my kind of empathy and real morality. But you’re probably right; I’m not suited for Gitmo.”

(It seems to me, by the way, that morality takes guts, judgment, and principle as well as softness of heart.)

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