Can't get my head around my colleague's beliefs

(33 Posts)
AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 20:30:22

My colleague believes in absolutely nothing. Today he said that starving people in poor countries should either move or die and as long as the world is comfortable for him for the rest of his life he doesn't give a what happens to it or the people living in it. He's talked about the same sort of thing before, not in a grandstanding way but just as a matter of fact.

This is a man who is educated, widely travelled, has interests and hobbies, a girlfriend with a daughter, a good job.

I can't get my head around it. How is it possible for someone to just not care?

beccajoh Thu 19-Jun-14 20:32:37

Not caring doesn't really have anything to do with not believing in anything. You can believe all you want and still be an arsehole.

treaclesoda Thu 19-Jun-14 20:33:37

Some people are just selfish and self absorbed. In his case he is quite open about it. Many people feel much the same but know that it isn't socially acceptable to say so.

beccajoh Thu 19-Jun-14 20:33:44

But I get what you're saying. I don't understand how people can just not give a shit about anything but their own little world.

SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 20:34:55

I have no idea how he can or why he might think like that. I don't think it is a "spiritual" think as non-believers in a religious sense can have very complete ethical and moral beliefs (and generally do).

joanofarchitrave Thu 19-Jun-14 20:35:00

You're working with my first husband...

does he have cats he is ridiculously sentimental about?

Thumbwitch Thu 19-Jun-14 20:35:15

He sounds like an "I'm all right Jack, sod the rest of you" person. There are quite a lot of them about really, sadly.

SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 20:35:29

Thing, not think.

treaclesoda Thu 19-Jun-14 20:35:43

I get what you're saying too, but I think if I thought about how many people actually think this way Id5 be too depressed by it to get out of bed in the morning. Which is ironic because in a way it's the same - I try not think about things that are too uncomfortable to think about, and for me one of those things is knowing how little some people care about other people.

susiedaisy Thu 19-Jun-14 20:38:34

I have two male family members and a friends husband who are like this. They don't believe in god or anything like that, they believe you make your own luck and so if you are poor or ill it must of been your own fault somewhere along the line. They think if your fat it's laziness pure and simple. They all own their own business's and can afford to buy pretty much what they want and can't understand why others can't do the same. And they don't give a shit about human rights, animal rights poverty, wars etc etc

I can't spend much time in their company to be honest as it upsets me that someone can be so intolerant to other peoples misfortune and lack any empathy to the plight of suffering. It's an ugly quality in a person.

AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 20:47:06

Not a cat person, he has a dog!

It's not the lack of religious belief that bothers me but the lack of belief in... anything? What gets him up in the morning? What's the point to his life? I truly cannot comprehend the mindset of someone who is so totally lacking in empathy and care for anyone less fortunately circumstanced than themselves.

He's a perfectly nice bloke to work with but I find his stance incomprehensible, even fairly shocking and abhorrent.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 19-Jun-14 20:57:27

It could be that he lacks empathy (is a psycho/sociopath) and doesn't wish to pretend he cares when he really doesn't. Or it might be that he is telling you this as a wind up. My DB would say stuff like that just to get a reaction.hmm

SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 21:01:04

Believing you "make your own luck" and being poor or ill must be your own fault is rather superstitious in some form and fairly irrational - it doesn't make sense. How could a starving baby have "made their own luck"?

It seems like an attempt to rationalise a very unpleasant character trait of not giving a shit about other people.

Igggi Thu 19-Jun-14 21:03:57

He's an egoist I suppose. Refreshingly honest, but not a nice human being.

AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 21:05:09

I don't want to believe that he really doesn't give a toss about anyone else. Unless someone is mentally unbalanced, how would that even be possible?

CharlesRyder Thu 19-Jun-14 21:08:02

Have you seen all the programmes about psychopaths?

Most are not Ian Brady types. Just ordinary people who don't care about anyone else.

hildasmuriel Thu 19-Jun-14 21:09:20

Sounds like a complete lack of empathy possibly coupled with a lack of exposure to people experiencing such issues. I imagine such people would find dealing with any life issues that might hit them extremely difficult and would be interesting to see if they maintain their views.

Difficult to imagine how someone would openly express such views and not think others would think them deeply unpleasant but maybe he just doesn't care or is trying to get a rise out of you.

treaclesoda Thu 19-Jun-14 21:14:09

I'm pretty sure I've met quite a few people in life who truly don't care about anyone but themselves. I've known people who have trampled over colleagues to get a pay rise, lied and cheated in the workplace if necessary, bullied and belittled their partner, bitched and moaned about their families and treated their children like some sort of burden. I've always assumed them to just not care at all about anyone but themselves. I think it's scary just how many people actually are like that.

AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 21:17:53

I've met one psychopath - my own diagnosis BTW as they ticked almost every box over a long period of me having to work for them - and they seemed utterly unaware of their behaviour. This man isn't like that. I suppose he might just be deeply unpleasant sad

MandMand Thu 19-Jun-14 21:20:59

But don't some religions have elements of the same kind of attitude? If you're successful, you're being rewarded by God, if you're poor, you're being punished, and this is what you deserve. If you pray hard enough, or if enough people pray for you, you will be healed, but if you don't believe enough, or pray enough, you won't.

Isn't there also a Christian (or at least Protestant) tradition of belief in predestination, where God has already decided if you're saved or damned, and there is nothing you can do to change this? I can't see how this is so different from your colleague's belief.

AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 21:24:42

When he first came out with this stuff I did think he just wanted a reaction but he is completely matter of fact about it and TBH I'm not the kind of person anyone bothers trying to get a rise from. It just came up in conversation - we were talking about food supplies and I mentioned something I'd seen on here about demand from rich nations making staple foods in poor countries unaffordable. "If they can't afford to eat then they can move can't they? Or die. It's survival of the fittest." and then later on about keeping the world going for the next 50 years so he could have a good life and then it can all go to hell as far as he's concerned.

AndHarry Thu 19-Jun-14 21:28:50

Mand I don't understand that in any practical way either. Without concern for others, what's to stop you doing whatever you feel like at the time? It seems a horrible way to live.

I believe in an omniscient god but knowing what's going to happen because of people's choices isn't the same as making those choices for them.

MooncupGoddess Thu 19-Jun-14 21:34:36

Some people are just like this. He probably does care about his girlfriend and immediate family/friends, just can't empathise with anyone beyond that.

It's unpleasant, but in some ways I prefer people like this who are honest about their attitudes to those who get terribly sentimental in public about others' suffering but never make the slightest effort to do anything about it.

deepbluetr Fri 20-Jun-14 08:06:54

I don't think this is anything to do with religion.

My family who are deeply religious think that homosexuality is evil and that poor people suffering is part of God's greater plan.

Being religious doesn't make you humane- look at mother Teresa and the squalid "hospitals" she keeps her patients in when they would get better treatment in the free state hospital down the road.

Great photo shoots for her fundraising though.

Some people just totally lack empathy, and imagination. They genuinely can't picture themself in someone else's position, so can't see that they would not have the opportunity to simply emigrate to another country, find a good job, and therefore improve their own circumstances simply because they are such a wonderful hardworking person.

It's kind of superstition, but also a massive belief in himself - if bad things happen to people it is because they deserve them. Even if I was in their position, those bad things would not happen to me, because I am better than that. I would sort things out, and overcome, because I am better than them. Therefore they deserve to have bad things happen, because of their failure to sort themselves out.

It absolves him of any sense of responsibility for the rest of humanity. They have failed by not being as successful and lucky as him, so he owes them nothing.

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