ACTS OF EMPATHY: How to Spread the Warmth

This post needs no comments from me.


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel.

What would the world be like if empathy, not self interest, were our primary motivating force?

Should an Atheist Group be Disallowed a Seat at the Table of Public Discourse?

Image: www.redbubble.com

“Woman with Dead Child” by Kathe Kollwitz, etching, 1903 National Gallery of Art,D.C. Image: http://www.redbubble.com 

Empathy, as I often say, must not be a one way street. The only way to a peaceful world is through Universal Empathy and Benevolent Reciprocity. This goes for religious groups as well as not religious groups. As John Stuart Mill put it, if all the world were of one opinion except for one person, the world would have no more right to silence him than he, had he the power, to silence the world.


Federal Lawsuit Demands Equal Space for “Reason Station,” Church-State Watchdog Says.

DETROIT – In an effort to protect the First Amendment rights of all Warren, Mich. residents regardless of their religious or philosophical beliefs or non-beliefs, the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Freedom from Religion Foundation have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s ban on an atheist booth in a city-hall atrium where the city has allowed a prayer station.
Image from http://www.soulation.org/Image: http://www.soulation.org/

The atrium has been set up by city officials as a public space that can be reserved by a wide variety of groups and individuals, including civic organizations and Warren residents, but the mayor is not allowing an atheist to use space in the atrium because his belief system “is not a religion.”

Since 2009, the city has allowed a local church group to run a prayer station in which volunteers distribute religious pamphlets, offer to pray with passersby, and discuss their religious beliefs with people who approach the station. The lawsuit filed today does not seek to have the prayer station removed, but instead asks the court to order the city to treat believers and non-believers equally.
“Once the government opens public space for use by private groups, it cannot pick and choose who can use the space based on the content of their message or whether public officials agree with that message,” said Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan deputy legal director. “For instance, Warren officials would not be permitted to grant access to activists supportive of the mayor and reject the applications of activists who are critical of the mayor.  The same logic extends to this matter: the city cannot allow speech supportive of religion and reject speech supportive of atheism.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Douglas Marshall, a Warren resident whose request to install a “reason station” was rejected by the city. Marshall wishes to set up a station that is similar in size, structure and function to the prayer station – a folding table and chairs with literature on display and available to the public – except that his station will offer information and opportunities for discussion from a non-religious perspective.
“The city has an obligation to serve all members of the community equally, regardless of their faith or their lack of faith,” said Americans United Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser. “Our laws make it clear that our government can’t adopt a rule book that favors one group over another.”

Read more at: https://au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-allies-challenge-michigan-citys-rejection-of-atheist-display

— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel based on the epic struggle between religion and science, and brings the true nature of justice, mercy, and love into sharp focus.  What would the world be like if empathy, not self interest, were our primary motivating force?

Brazil’s “biggest shame in history?” Really?

Let me first be clear. I am not opposed to non-pugilistic sports of any kind. Indeed, nations should continue their internal and international games. It is a superb way for societies to interact.

As Important as I feel sports to be, however, they should not be our highest priority.

Sao Paulo's Itaquerão stadium Photo from en.wikipedia.org

Sao Paulo’s Itaquerão stadium
Photo from en.wikipedia.org

To put things into prospective, the Sao Paulo’s Itaquerão stadium, home to the 2014 World Cup games, was built at the cost to the citizens for $350-million.

Residents in the area say that their taxes rose between 20 and 35 percent. A short distance from this beautiful stadium live about 4,800 homeless people, (men, women, and children).

The Brazilian sports newspaper Lance called Brazil’s loss to their team’s bid to win the soccer World Cup, “the biggest shame in history.” Really? Brazil’s biggest shame in history? How about the rampant, abject poverty in Brazil? No shame there?

Brazilian homeless Photo: Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera

Photo: Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera

Indifference to poverty in any country is a disgrace, and most, if not all countries have an overabundance of it–including the USA.

All societies should be judged by how they treat the least of their citizens. In the USA, there is an ever widening gap between the wealthy and the poor, and conservatives, who claim to be “family values” Christians, are fighting fang and claw to keep it that way.

Photo: Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera

Photo: Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera

Arrogance (self aggrandizement) and indifference fuel poverty and war. It seem the world has at least another millennium to go before it gets its priorities in proper order.

Most of us judge ourselves in comparison to others in society. It’s natural do do so. We can see that we are financially better off than many, but not as financially secure as others. Yet our focus is mainly on ourselves–our position in society relative to those with greater wealth.

Should we not be more concerned with those who have little or nothing? No one wants to live in abject poverty. Would it not be a greater good if everyone worked for the benefit of others? This view, of course, is considered naive by many, and indeed it is, given our present day world with its attitudes of dominance, profit, and self righteousness. But we have slowly advanced from where we’ve been in history. There are, today, more of us who can see the benefits of universal empathy. There are more of us who do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In time, there will be many more. We can only hope humanity survives to see the world we envision.


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel based on the epic struggle between religion and science, and brings the true nature of justice, mercy, and love into sharp focus.  What would the world be like if empathy, not self interest, were our primary motivating force?

 

Why We Have a Wall of Separation between Church and State

Image

IRAN: “Razieh Ebrahimi was forced to marry at the age of 14, became a mother at 15, and killed her husband at 17. Now at 21, she is on Iran’s death row.”

The primitive and inhuman religious intolerance of fundamentalist Islam is not a testament to the superiority of Christianity, but a testament to the brilliance of the Founders of our republic (in particular, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) in placing the Establishment Clause* in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, thereby, as Jefferson said, erecting a “wall of separation” between Church and State.**

Keep in mind that in the West, fundamentalist Muslims are considered to be evil merchants of hatred and death. Indeed, they are.

But keep in mind, too, that Islam is only one of the three Abrahamic religions, the other two being Judaism and Christianity. Of the three, it is the radical faction of Islam that holds most faithfully to the ancient scriptures, albeit adding many more draconian laws (especially for the subjugation or women) since its founding.

If a Jewish or a Christian nation were to strictly abide by the ancient laws, which they claim to be God’s Word, but to which only fundamentalist Islam faithfully subscribes in toto, there would be little difference between the fundamentalist Muslim states and the states of the west.

Fortunately, Judaism has moderated and evolved, with the help of reason, and early Christians saw fit pick and choose from the old laws, leaving out the summery executions of women for perceived insults to the male ego and their obsession for dominance. Fundamentalist Islam, however, with it’s head firmly buried in the 7th century, still perceives itself emasculated by independent women–and in Islam, the old laws govern the state. There is no Wall of Separation. Men still fear female independence.

ImageAnd yet, even here in the West, modern day Christian fundamentalists–including many politicians and some Supreme Court Justices, who should understand the Constitution better than anyone, still disavow and deny existence of the Wall of Separation, (e.g., Scott “Stoning Gays is Fine” Esk, of Oklahoma, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy MooreU.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and many others).

Such inexcusable ignorance! Have these people no knowledge of what happened in the early years of our nation? Have they not heard of the Salem Witchcraft Trials and the execution of women? With enough people like Esk, Scalia, and Moore, et al, in government, is there any doubt that we would not revisit the years when woman were hanged, stoned, crushed, or drowned by mere accusation of witchcraft and men and women executed for homosexuality?

 This is the very reason for the Establishment Clause. And for Scalia, et al, not to understand this is beyond belief. For his information (as though he would care), the intent of the Separation Clause is documented in Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. This is the document from which the Separation Clause was fashioned and it spells out Jefferson’s precise intent–which is true freedom of conscience and speech for every person, and under no coercion from clergy or government agency. Scalia, et al, should take the time to read this document.

If a religion cannot stand on its own merits and be strong enough to withstand criticism, even from its women, then it does not deserve to survive. If our “leaders” cannot understand the concept of benevolent reciprocity (do unto others . . .) then they should step down.

* Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

** The “Wall of Separation” comment is found in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in the state of Connecticut, written in 1802.


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel based on the epic struggle between religion and science, and brings the true nature of justice, mercy, and love into sharp focus.  What sort of world would a truly benevolent god have created?

Want’s the Matter with North Carolina?

The Culture War

The Culture War

How would I go about viewing politics through an empathetic lens? Politics is the second most pervasive subject to grip the human psyche–the first being religion. I am opposed to both, really, at least in the way they are practiced. There seems to be no honor in politics, and each organized religion has its conceptual boundaries, beyond which lies universal empathy–the Forbidden Zone.

I’ve written on both subjects, and at least with politics, I’ve tippy-toed around the ugliness. No more. In viewing politics through the lens of empathy, one must first find the truth, point out the truth and the deception, and then attempt to find an empathetic way to a solution that is best for society. In most cases, I suspect, the solution necessarily would be utilitarian in nature–the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This would include the “least of these” in society. And so I dive into the ugly, with empathy in mind.

In a State known for its class 1 colleges and its Research Triangle, one would think the good people of North Carolina would not be so easily swayed by misinformation and disinformation.

The neoconservatives, decades ago, having lost their beloved Soviet Union “evil empire,” declared a “Culture War” against liberalism. It had been going on since the founding of our republic, but this time it was different.

Right wing movements in a democratic republic must have an “enemy” in order to plant fear in the minds of the people, and then harvest their votes. The enemy must be painted as evil and destructive to society’s “values,” and the best way to do that is through coordinated, party-wide propaganda in the mass media.

The Strategy: in 1996, Newt Gingrich wrote a memo to GOPAC titled, <a href=”http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm”>”Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,”</a>, in which he codified the neoconservative plan of political attack that the neocons had been using since before Reagan, but this time it was for all conservatives. This memo provided virtually all conservative politicians and political hopefuls with their tactical marching orders. It had little to do with policy. Indeed, the voter would vote against their policies where they argued on their own merits. Therefore, the strategy was to destroy the public’s view of the enemy and their policies, but never detailing one’s own policies.

Keep in mind that the neocons considered the “Culture War” a real war, and the strategy was to infiltrate the minds of the public, control the message with disinformation (kick up sand and muddy the water), and stamp out liberalism once and for all. But this was not for the benefit of the public, it was for the benefit of themselves.

Arguably (or not) the most potent weapon in any war is “psychological operations” (psyops), i.e., propagation of propaganda as a means to control the minds of the citizens and turn them against one’s enemies. No organization/nation/party can survive long without the support of the people. Therefore, to achieve this end, the conservatives needed a seemingly legitimate propaganda network. Thus was born Fox News and a radio/television nation seeded with right wing, talking-head think-alikes.

Why did this work so well in America? First, it began in the days of pre-Internet, so it was more difficult to ferret out the real truth. Then the message was peppered with emotional words and phrases like “family values,” and “communist liberals,” and “Nazis,” and “patriot,” and “Second Amendment,” and “the liberals have expelled God from our schools and are coming for your guns and Bibles.”

Liberals, unfortunately, were very slow to pick up on this. The conservatives were talking to the nation, but effectively, liberals were not. Thus the conservatives controlled the message.

No conservative voter I have debated has ever noticed the difference in the messages coming from their political camp and that of the liberal, and they have denied it when pointed out. Where the liberals concentrate on policy, the conservatives concentrate on demonization of the left–mostly personal attacks against the person and the person’s family. It actually works.

Few people noticed when the main thrust of conservative politics became less about policy and more about party-wide, unified, personal attacks, misinformation, and concentrated, emotion generating rhetoric. Hate speech! Now, thanks to Newt, et al, it is now the very foundation of conservative politics. Rarely will you hear a conservative politician speak on a policy without a personal attack against the president, designed to spike emotions. It is their deceitful modus operandi–method of operation. One need not present an alternative policy; just a demonization of the enemy and his policies.

So, again, why do conservative psyops continue to work with all the information now available? It works because it is emotional and it works because far too many voters simply do not vet the information (it’s on Fox News, to it must be fact). And it works, too, because of the apparent legitimate “reports” coming out of conservative, corporate funded think-tanks that are accepted as authoritative by the corporate media.

The end-game: The United States is in a precipitous slid into oligarchy (note, in the graph below, the ever widening income gap between the wealthy and the working class).

Image

The United States already is a corporatocracy. Few things will get done in DC without Wall Street’s approval, and they continue to see record profits while the working class virtually flat-lines. With a corporate Supreme Court and multinational corporations (loyal to no flag) mainly funding the conservatives, I see no means of recovery at anytime in the near future.

 

 

The illusion of separateness

Max T. Furr:

This is a re-blog from

LIFE IS NOT AN ERROR

Originally posted on Life Is Not An Error:

My horizons know no bounds, dimensionless I pass through with no sound; through dimensions, vacuous, folded and entangled so I am the golden thread oscillating a heavenly glow, binding strings in a perpetual state of flow. As thick as a Planck are those who insist they are alone and separate from all around them; for once we were all in union and hence forever in communion and unison despite an illusionary range. Believe me not? Then just ask the cat locked inside the box and ignore that sly fox, whom asks that you merely shake the box to hear it meow! Understand the entanglement, the oscillations and vibrations that echo silently and abundantly through all. This Earth and you are but one expression of me but one I love dearly so, so I bring you this message on the illusion of your separateness and the rarity of your sentient glow…

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the untouchable smile – {QP3}

Max T. Furr:

From a new and genuine friend. His social philosophy and mine are one.

Originally posted on Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger:

{press play}

When I look out at the people and they look at me and they are smiling, 
then I know, that I’m loved. That is the time that I have no worries, no problems.- Etta James

untouched smile

the Smile Collection

the Quest for Peace entry Three {QP3}
QP1/Violence – QP2/The 5 Reasons We are Our Brothers Keeper

The smile. A mood lifting, contagious reaction, free to give, and beautiful to receive, gesture and expression. How we love when babies smile.  It is the one sound or expression they make, that lets us know everything is okay. A natural reaction, it is created with ease. A frown creates tension, and if our Grandmothers are correct, hold on to one long enough, and it will become your permanent expression. Smile, and less an occasion or two,  the person you smiled at, will smile back at you. Smile in the mirror…

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