(Posted in the spirit of draft amnesty)
In my day-to-day life, I find it impossible to care as deeply about each individual inhabitant of my moral circle as I would like to. Sometimes, it brings me joy to pause and actively notice how large my moral circle really is.
I remember having this thought for the first time while walking down a busy street. Surrounded by a big rush of strangers, I found it striking to remember that I cared about each of the people walking by — that their hopes, desires, and dreams were a part of my utility function. For a couple of minutes, I tried to really notice every person passing by, be curious about the particularities of their lives, and briefly extend the intensity of love I am usually able to hold for only my closest loved ones.
When I want to get in touch with this emotion nowadays, I’ll close my eyes and imagine all the inhabitants of my moral circle — the entire universe and all her children — stretching out all around me. I think about the companion chickens and shrimp who live with friends of mine, and how much happier their lives are compared to the lives of most farmed animals. Or I’ll think about the children of the future, and imagine them leading flourishing, happy lives.
One of the gifts I’m most grateful EA has given me is helping me notice how BIG the world is, and how much there is to care about.
Sometimes, it helps me to remember that I am in other people’s moral circles. That total strangers in the world, who I might not ever meet, care about ME, about me specifically, about my flourishing and happiness. Especially when my mental health is bad and I’m hiding from everyone else in my life, I like to think about a particularly altruistic stranger in the world, and feel comforted to know that, even if they don’t know my name, they care about me and are wishing me well.
Merry Christmas (and happy holidays)! I am grateful that you are a part of my moral circle, and I am grateful to be a part of yours <3
Thanks to Akash Wasil and Aric Floyd for looking at an earlier version of this :)