9/11 was a tragedy of unbounded proportions for all touched painfully by it. I can only hope that those who suffered great loss that day have somehow found some peace in the time since. As a nation we certainly have not found any.
We rightfully felt the unspeakable injustice of innocent lives cruelly cut short, but as a nation we failed to fully enter into the grief of those whose loved ones died that day. Had we done so, we might have realized that what we were feeling was not so different from what families in Southeast Asia and Central America felt at the hands of US or US-backed forces.
This is not some anti-US rant. So please don’t misunderstand it as such. It is a plea for people to touch into the pain we experienced and realize it is the same pain that Vietnamese and Cambodians and Salvadorans and Guatemalans and Nicaraguans Continue reading
There is no need to add to the chorus of praise for Nelson Mandela. He deserves it all. I wonder, though, if some of the fervent singing is due not to who Mandela was, but to a sudden fear that the breed of politicians who rise to the rank of great statesmen has passed with him.
Mandela by his own insistence was not a saint. None of us are, of course, but his acknowledgment seemed a deliberate attempt to discourage a personality cult. While that puts him all the closer to sainthood, I’ll honor his self-assessment and merely accuse him of humility and wisdom.
Sadly, however, he undermined his claimed unsaintliness by refusing to serve more than one term as president. Perhaps he was just old enough to know better at that point, but even that would amount to uncommon wisdom. Not uncommon for an average person, but tragically uncommon for a politician.
It is that distinction, between common people and politicians, that grabs hold of me when I think of Mandela and his legacy. Continue reading
The government shutdown, which had most people wondering what has happened to American politics, has spurred laments over the lost art of dialogue. How have we reached the point that the people elected to govern the country cannot sit down and talk to each other?
In many ways, this situation reflects the wider situation in the country, where name-calling and self-righteous posturing have replaced debate. Many people are talking, and all too often parroting the same words that their comrades are copying and pasting all over cyberspace, but who is listening?
Sadly, however, the problem goes even deeper. More than just listening, people can dialogue only if they are open to being changed by what other participants say. Continue reading
It’s Memorial Day again, and as good a time as any to reflect on the lives of so many people who died or were seriously disabled, mentally and physically, trying to make the world a better place. And each has my great respect and thanks for acting so selflessly.
At the same time, I’d like to tell anyone ready to follow in those footsteps: Please, don’t do it. At least not unless you are personally sure that it is absolutely necessary: that it will indeed make the world a better place and there is no other way. Otherwise, I, for one, would rather have you with us, working to make the world a better place in so many smaller but perhaps more effective ways, day by day by day.
A friend recently wrote a moving post after the dedication of a memorial to local residents killed in service. Continue reading
All of The Logic of Compassion is available to read online. For now I will keep earlier posts tagged “Core” only because of some insightful comments. But as soon as I figure out how to migrate the comments to the appropriate chapters, I will delete those posts, since they just recycle material better read as part of a whole. So as of May 2013, posts will take the material in the main menu link “The Logic” as a starting point and roam over a wider range of connections. I look forward to hearing from you!
The key to answering the nagging question of utilitarianism – to the extent that it can be answered – lies in the primacy of love. As outlined in the last post, love is the momentum of unity. It is not chosen or willed. The experiential encounter of life with other instances of life can bring it to the fore if it has been hidden beneath layers of self, but it is always present even if not known or recognized. Justice, on the other hand, is a reflection on unity. Experience comes before reflection, and hence love before justice, even the expanded sense of justice we developed.
The concrete question we were struggling with at the end of that development was whether it would not be in the interest of life as a whole to remove “flawed” instances of consciousness – people who for one reason or another can’t or won’t cooperate, who insist on harming others or place great burdens on available resources. Let’s begin by asking another question: acting out of love, can we destroy life? Continue reading
There is much more to discuss about the self, but we left something hanging at the end of the second Justice post – whether or not the concept of justice as outlined tended toward a utilitarian justification of anything “for the common good,” or the perceived advantage of the many. I said then that we first had to look into what love means, and I think it is better to do this sooner rather than later. Continue reading
The concept of justice outlined in the last two posts grew out of the preceding discussion on the self. It deals with life as a whole, but does it apply on the scale of life as we live it day-to-day? Does it have anything to say, for instance, about the Trayvon Martin case, which is attracting so much attention?
I say “case” in particular, because whatever it is all about, it is not about justice for Trayvon. It is sadly too late for that, as it was all along. Continue reading
So where is justice when people “get away” with crimes, or when one community profits at the expense of another? Obviously there is none from the individual point of view: some individuals and communities/tribes/countries win, and some lose. As a whole, however, we lose. How? Because neither the winners nor the losers are well placed to carry the grand experiment of life forward. Continue reading