Dacher Keltner studies human nature:

[We can] see the great human propensity for compassion and the effects compassion can have on behavior. But can we actually cultivate compassion, or is it all determined by our genes?

Recent neuroscience studies suggest that positive emotions are less heritablethat is, less determined by our DNAthan the negative emotions. Other studies indicate that the brain structures involved in positive emotions like compassion are more "plastic"subject to changes brought about by environmental input. So we might think about compassion as a biologically based skill or virtue, but not one that we either have or don"t have. Instead, it"s a trait that we can develop in an appropriate context.

Virtue is acquired. Love is learned. Forgiveness is a strain. This is why I believe that Jesus came to help us.

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