The Why? page of this blog can serve as an introduction, but I can’t assume you have read it. And it’s important to give you a reason why I want to go on about logic and compassion, and why you might want to read it.
The reason is simple. After a million years or so of evolution, humans have failed to get to first base. Armed conflicts, environmental catastrophes, economic chaos — enough said. We treat each other and our world brutally. The only thing one could reasonably expect for our future is extinction.
Of course, humans are also capable of greatness, of selfless acts that benefit life as a whole, often enough in remarkable ways. So what is the problem? Why can’t we get it together?
Certainly religions set forth noble ideals and codes of conduct, but these have not kept us from creating the mess we are in. Unwilling to confront this reality, religious leaders merely warn of even more dire consequences if we abandon the absolute morality they are no longer able to sell. But such appeals have brought little more than extremism.
So one thing we need to do is acknowledge that while religions serve some or even many people well, they have failed to inspire people as a whole to produce a better world. Put another way, religions have much to offer, but they are not the only game in town.
Science, technology and the rationality behind them have captured our imagination. Increasingly people demand reasonable explanations for just about everything. But reason requires careful attention, which would be a challenge even if power brokers and marketeers were not working to discourage critical thinking. So we mix the mythic thinking that gives religion its true power with an uncritical rationality. We pick and choose aspects of either that fit comfortably with whatever it is we want, while keeping God around to fix things if we can’t. Still, there is a definite trend toward trusting reason over religion, science over myth.
Meanwhile, we are losing the sense of being part of a bigger whole as we focus more and more on the individual. We do not feel connected to each other in a vital way, and as a result we no longer care, or we do not care enough to change what cannot be right.
We need a vital reason to care, and for this we need a common ground, something we all can agree on despite our vastly different starting points and worldviews. We are capable of compassion, but we need to understand it as a logical reality. We need to understand it as a constant component of our being rather than as a passing emotion or the preserve of saints.
This is what we are here to do.