This is a question I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of reasons I shouldn’t be. So what is it? Is it just a phase I’m going through? Is it a secret desire to sit around my house all day living off of government handouts? Was I brainwashed by my public school teachers? Is it rebellion against my relatively conservative, religious upbringing? No…none of those sound quite right.
Some people think it’s biological – that brain chemistry can help determine it. Studies have shown that there’s some truth to that related to a positive correlation in the size of the amygdala and how aggressively someone responds to a perceived threat biologically. There are pretty clear social signs of that being true in things like the arguments for and against the USA taking in refugees from Syria or other Middle Eastern countries, for example. That may be a part of it for me. I believe that the ability to easily empathize with others is an important part of someone becoming progressive, and I think brain chemistry likely plays a pretty big role in that. Even so, it’s definitely environmental for me, too. I’ll come back to empathy later.