Empathy: Bringing down the walls, one brick at a time

By M. Jefferson Hale*

What would happen if the entire world followed the greatest moral advice of the sages?  What would such a world look like? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not a concept owned by any religion. One finds it even in the words of secular humanists. It is almost universal:

It is Baha’i: “Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. . . .Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.” Baha’u’llah;

It is Buddhism“…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” Samyutta Nikaya v. 353;

It is Christianity: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31, King James Version;

It is Secular HumanismDo unto others as you would have them do unto you; 

It is Brahmanism“This is the sum of Dharma (duty): Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”  Mahabharata, 5:1517;

It is Islam“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths;

It is Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a;

It is Confucianism“When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.” Confucius, Doctrine of the Mean.

Indeed, reciprocity** is a moral concept advocated by these and many more religions, as well as atheists and agnostics the world over. It is possibly the highest moral value ever espoused, and yet most who claim to adhere to this philosophy often ignore it, especially in politics. If this were not so, then there would exist little or no poverty, little or no indifference, and there would be universal, nonprofit healthcare. Why would this not be something to which everyone could agree?

I confess to my own guilt here. I, like everyone, am a product of my environment and my genetic heritage. I am a work in progress. I have profound regrets for inappropriate statements and actions that brought stress to others, and still often have difficulty in controlling my desire for fractious confrontation against those with whom I have grievances in both social situations and politics. Civil debate is always better even if civility isn’t a trait of one’s opponent, and I am a firm believer in debate. Thus, I have to keep reminding myself that anger wins no converts, always troubles the soul, and makes the way difficult. Since I cannot change the past or my genetics, therefore, the best I can do is try my best to recognize my inclinations to self-centeredness, condescension, aggression, and resist.

On this site, I will call on readers to join me in traveling the difficult path of the sages. We are all subject to the same natural impulses and will often fall short, but if everyone were to try, it would be a far better world.

How hard can it be? Consider Matthew 25:32-46. Matthew, or whoever wrote Matthew, in his quest to bring about a more just society, did not suffer from any illusion that empathy is our primary motivating force. Self-interest is far stronger. He knew that without threat of punishment, relatively few would follow his words. Moreover, he knew that mere punishment, such as execution, prison, or flogging would not be enough. He knew the punishment must be far greater than anything dealt by society. It had to be the threat of divine punishment: unrelenting torture, without end, forever.

Yet, even that threat has never been enough. Why has it not? Because we human beings are only slightly less subject to our genetic heritage than other species. By nature, we are aggressive, self-interested, territorial beings. These traits are characteristics honed long ago by the drive for survival—a drive we’ve inherited from a distant past far more dangerous than the present when to lose one’s territory and possessions was to lose one’s life, or at the very least, create hardships.

Still, human territorialism is no longer the instinct it was long ago. An instinct is a drive that impels an individual, without recourse, to certain actions, not the least of which is to protect himself, his family, and his territory in an aggressive manner and to procreate.

We now have the power to override those passions, reducing what used to be instinct to mere impulses. We have become, collectively, more tolerant and less territorial. Even though we, for the most part, have intellectualized our territorialism in the form of property possession and sovereignty by force of law, our ethical concepts are evolving. We, therefore, now have the capacity to follow the path of the sages, difficult as that may be.

I can envision a future—not in my lifetime but long thereafter—humankind will live together as brothers and sisters. I can see a time when our primary motivation will not be self-interest, but universal empathy. The founders of that future are those who listen to the sages and have the courage to venture beyond the walls of their theological and self-centered ideologies, taking with them only the greatest words of wisdom; the words of benevolent reciprocity. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone did this.

* M. Jefferson Hale is the lead character in the novel, The Empathy Imperative, by Max T. Furr

** What was implied by the sages was benevolent reciprocity. Simple reciprocity might allow for returning violence for violence, but benevolent reciprocity is returning kindness for violence. It is, indeed, a most difficult thing to do. Shouldn’t there be a Church of Benevolent Reciprocity?


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel exploring the nature Divine Justice. Was Descartes wrong and God was a deceiver, after all? What would the world be like if empathy, not self interest, were our primary motivating force?

Based on biblical literalism, the story opens at the beginning of the Tribulation, but a professor of philosophy and evolutionary biology becomes the focal point for a change that alters Yahweh’s Divine Plan. Jeff knew the answer to a question unspoken.

Alabama Chief Justice Judge Roy Moore Inducted Into the National Hall of Injustice

Roy-Moore-photoRational Press (RP) – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is today’s winner of the Legion of Dishonor Award for his open defiance of Constitutional law; specifically for his history of disregard for, or his ignorance of the intent of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. He is hereby inducted into the National Hall of Injustice.

Recently, Moore insisted that biblical law supersedes the Constitution, and to that end he issued an illegal order—demanding that local magistrates not issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples—in an effort to countermand the Supreme Court of the United States. For a judge to declare that his ancient, religious views override the Constitution and to act on that belief is, in the opinion of this Board of Inductions, judicial treason, punishable by firing and disbarment. He is a disgrace to the bench.

The federal courts have virtually always come down on the side religious freedom for everyone, but that freedom gives no one a right to compromise the freedom of others, e.g., freedom of conscience and the right to pursue happiness according to the dictates of conscience. All citizens must be equal before the law, and any law, based on religious conviction, inherently relegates some citizens to second-class status. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom for adherents of one religion to rule over adherents to other religions, or to rule over those who adhere to none at all.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom–the document from which the Establishment Clause was crafted and to which virtually all courts refer in church v. state cases:

[The] impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,4 is sinful and tyrannical . . .

Still, Moore isn’t entirely to blame. His religious tyranny is reflective of the will of ignorant voters who tend to elect such pompous, self-righteous, and/or ignorant men to high places.

I stand quietly

Max T. Furr:

A reblog out of empathy, and a well written piece.

Originally posted on Dirty, Naked and Happy:

I stand quietly while you do somersaults on the bed as you aren’t being naughty, you are just trying to get your out of sync body under control.

I stand quietly by the toilet door every time you need to go, and come with you around the house, and sometimes even just across the room, because I know you can feel truly frightened when you are not near me.

I stand quietly at the supermarket checkout while everyone stares at you barking like a dog and blowing raspberries on my arms to cope with the buzzing lights.

I stand quietly while you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.

I stand quietly when the attendant gives us scornful looks when I ask for the key to the disabled toilet because the hand dryer…

View original 800 more words

THE EMPATHY IMPERATIVE book trailer

If you like the trailer, please share.

If the Bible is the inerrant word of an inerrant god, then who really introduced evil into the world and why? If the Earth is only six to ten thousand years old, why is there such overwhelming, logically indisputable evidence of evolution?

Was Descartes wrong, and God was a deceiver, after all?

M. Jefferson (Jeff) Hale, a humanist professor of evolutionary biology, remains an unrepentant skeptic as the biblical Tribulation begins.

Wars, super storms, famine, disease, and food riots sweep the earth. Politicians, frightened by signs of the End of Days, scramble to make laws proving to God that they are worthy of salvation. A nationwide purge of liberal educators is implemented, and Jeff is on their hit list.

Jeff is curious about world events but unmoved by the mania and the purge. His only concerns are to enhance the intellectual maturity of his students, resolve his romantic ambivalence, and come to terms with the death of his estranged, fundamentalist father.

Yet, Jeff knows the answer to a question unasked, and as even as zealous forces move against him, he becomes the focus of an extraordinary event unforeseen even by God.
_______________________

“The Empathy Imperative” is a philosophical/spiritual novel written in the spirit of the BBC/WGBH Boston production, “God On Trial,” a play written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on an event told by Elie Wiesel in his book, “The Trial of God.”
_______________________

Paperback and Digital:

http://booklocker.com/books/6830.html (free chapter available)

The Empathy Imperative

The Empathy Imperative

Buy from Amazon

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-empathy-imperative-max-t-furr/1114833671?ean=9781626463226

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17659816-the-empathy-imperative

ISBN-13: 9781626463226
Publisher: BookLocker.com, Inc.
Publication date: 2/15/2013
Pages: 452

IN MEMORIAM: Hemn Hawez Hamadamin

Hemn Hawez HamadaminHemn Hawez Hamadamin

I pause in honor of the life and memory Hemn Hawez Hamadamin of Khdran, Sulaimani, who was martyred on January 30, 2015, from wounds he received in battle four days earlier in Mala-Abdulla on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. He was martyred along with 1400 other courageous Peshmerga (Kurdish army) fighters as they battled to drive ISIS out of Kirkuk.

My very good friend, Saman Ali, Hamadamin’s uncle, whom I befriended recently, informed me of his family’s loss. Hamadamin is certainly honored for his valiant efforts in fighting for the noble cause of freedom and against a brutal, inhuman, and maniacally murderous enemy of all decent people.

I pause, as well, to consider that Hemn Hawez Hamadamin, his comrades, and all who give their lives for the just cause of freedom should stand as a source of pride for all people who desire to live according to the dictates of their own conscience.

The noble Hamadamin was born on 2 May,1982, and joined the Peshmerga in 1998. Saman relates that he was a good, witty, and fun-loving man. He leaves behind in this life his three beautiful children and his mother.

May he rest in peace, and may the kurds be victorious.

Ali 4

Hamadamin's Daughter

Hamadamin’s Daughter

Ali 1

Hamadamin's Mother

Hamadamin’s Mother

Loving Father

Loving Father

Ali 7

Let’s Amend the 1st and 2nd Amendments

This is part 2 of the challenge posted previously to Rewrite the Constitution. It is probable that, with the first part, my approach was too much in asking for responses on how the Constitution should be changed to clarify and reflect one’s opinion. Even with the ubiquitous and often fractious nature of online debates about the meaning of different aspects of the Constitution, thus far, no one has offered any suggestions as to how they would change it. Surprise, surprise.

Therefore, I present in this post only the First and Second Amendments and give suggestions as to how one might amend them. Other Amendments in the Bill of Rights will follow if the response level for this post merits.


First, let’s get the biggest, most absurd issues/suggestions out of the way, of interest mostly to libertarians.

Repeals:

1. Repeal the entire Constitution and dissolve the federal government such that each State becomes a sovereign nation.

2. Repeal the entire Bill of Rights, leaving the rest of the Constitution intact, thereby leaving civil and social protections up to the States.


Now, for more thoughtful issues.

Revisions:

Text of the 1st Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Suggestions:

1. Repeal the 1st Amendment and leave social and civil protections up to the States;

2. Revise the religion clauses to say, “Congress shall make no law contrary to biblical law, or prohibiting the teaching thereof. 

3.  Revise the religion clauses to say, “No government institution, local, state, or federal, shall make laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting its free exercise without ecumberance on others;

4. Revise the free speech clause to say, “or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press except in cases of blasphemy* against the Christian religion;

* Suggestion for a definition of blasphemy as is defined by the Massachusetts Blasphemy Statute (unrepealed), Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 272, § 36:

Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

5. Leave the 1st Amendment as is.

————————–

Text of the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Suggestions:

1. Repeal the Second Amendment and leave gun possession rights up to the States.

2. Eliminate the first clause (“A well regulated militia”) such that the Amendment reads, “A means of protection, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

3. Revise to say, A means of protection, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be revoked, but well regulated.

4. Rewrite to say, “Since a standing army is now maintained by the government, negating the necessity for a militia and unfettered civilian ownership of arms, the right of the state to licence and regulate arms is necessary for public safety.”

5. Leave the 2nd Amendment as is.

*   *   *

Comments and ferocious debate appreciated–but be civil.

Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney Receives the Legion of Dishonor Award

Author’s Note: Anyone may nominate a personality or organization for the “Legion of Dishonor Award” and induction into the National Hall of Injustice. Reasonable evidence must be presented with the nomination.
*  *  *

Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney, 46th Vice President of the United States is today’s inductee into the NATIONAL HALL OF INJUSTICE for treason against the United States by exposing a NOC (Non-Official-Cover/deep cover) CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson–specializing in anti-WMD operations–and her front organization, Brewster-Jennings. Her outing, in turn, exposed all agents under that front organization as well as their foreign contacts. Plame was operations chief at the Joint Task Force on Iraq of the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA’s clandestine operations directorate. The CIA’s damage assessment, to this day, remains Top Secret.

Plame’s CIA operation was compromised by a leak from Cheney’s office in revenge against Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, for his op-ed in the New York Times that refuted the administration’s claim that Iraq was attempting to buy “yellowcake” (the base material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment) from Niger. A subsequent criminal investigation was obstructed by Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s top advisor and firewall. Libby subsequently fell on his sword, was convicted of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison. G.W. Bush commuted the prison sentence.

Cheney deserves the Legion of Dishonor Award as well for his false statements and critical influence of President G.W. Bush to give unconfirmed, disputed, and false information to Congress in order to obtain the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.  This resolution gave the administration congressional permission to preemptively invade the sovereign nation of Iraq.

Cheney was instrumental, as well, in the creation of America’s Gulag Archipelago of Blacksite Torture camps that used methods of enhanced interrogation (torture) in violation of international law, to which the U.S. was/is bound.

ALERT! Conservative mass email and Fox “News” deception

I just received this email this morning sporting the title, “Instant Poll,” and the brief detail says, “Obama Just announced . . .”

Opening the email I found that it is a deception from a conservative source that slyly, in very large, bold print, says to vote to stop “Stop Citizen’s United.”

A lot of folks will go straight from the large print and vote on the large voting buttons. But the title is a deception. The question on the poll, in smaller non-bold print, however, has nothing to do with Citizen’s United. Just over the Vote Button is the question: “Do you support or oppose Obama’s proposal to make voting mandatory for American Citizens.”

Obama never made any such proposal.

This is why I became a progressive and why I left the Republican Party years ago. While some (most?) liberal politicians will lie now and then, they do not engage in massive email deceptions (propaganda) and they do not have a robust propaganda network such as Fox “News,” et al, which is continuing to spread this lie. This is the sort of dishonorable action that the misinformed, low information, often fundamentalist voter supports.

Evidence posted at this site:

Please tweet. Get the word out.

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