“Almost everyone, including the well off, can be moved to care about the less fortunate and less powerful, in spite of whatever effects wealth may have on them. Individual stories help. Exposure helps. Just paying attention-to the waitress, the person in the crosswalk, the cleaning staff in the corridor of the conference center—helps. Imagination helps, too.
I know a man who runs a large, urban affiliate of Habitat for humanity, a nonprofit program in which low-income families build their own homes alongside community volunteers and then buy the houses at a reduced rate. On the first day of construction, he tells me, retired guys from the suburbs itching to break out their power tools show up to work with the future homeowner, often a working single mom with young kids who’s never been on a construction site in her life. ‘They have nothing in common and no idea what to do with each other,’ he says.