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.

PROFILES IN DISHONOR: The True Legacy of the Confederate Flag


A personal note: I apologize to my followers for my extended absence from the blogs. I’ve been working on a formula for social justice in the U.S. from a Rawlsian perspective. I will publish it shortly.


The South fought for the constitutional right to treat their property as they saw fit

The South fought for the constitutional right to treat its property as it saw fit – From Pinterest: Citation unknown

The True Legacy of the Confederate Battle Flag

So many times in the past I have argued that in order to find the reason for the occurrence of an event is to look for the root cause. This applies as well to many folks, especially in the South, who claim that the Civil War was not about enslaving human beings, but about State’s rights. So, let’s look at the root cause of South Carolina’s secession, and ultimately starting the Civil War:

Section 2 of Article IV of the Constitution of the United States stated:

Section 2 – Privileges of Citizens of each State. Fugitives from Justice to be delivered up. Persons held to service having escaped, to be delivered up.

  1. The Citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of Citizens in the several states.
  2. A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee justice, and be found in another state, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.
  3. No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.(This clause superseded December 6, 1865 by Amendment XIII)

A current argument:

1. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States guaranteed that a “person held to service or labour” would be returned to their owners from any State where they were apprehended.

2. The non slaveholding states of the North violated Article IV, Section 2 when they, and the new liberal president, Abraham Lincoln,  decided to refuse to return runaway slaves.

Conclusion ∴ The Northern States, breached the Constitution’s guaranteed State right to have their lawful property (slaves) returned–a States’ rights issue.

Debunktion:

South Carolina’s articles of Secession

(Slave ghosts added by author)

Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union (from The Avalon Project)

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

Slave with Iron Bit. Citation unknownAnd now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to

herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act.

In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies, “that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.”

      Slave with Iron Bit. Citation unknown

They further solemnly declared that whenever any “form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.” Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they declared that the Colonies “are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

In pursuance of this Declaration of Independence, each of the thirteen States proceeded to exercise its separate sovereignty; adopted for itself a Constitution, and appointed officers for the administration of government in all its departments– Legislative, Executive and Judicial. For purposes of defense, they united their arms and their counsels; and, in 1778, they entered into a League known as the Articles of Confederation, whereby they agreed to entrust the administration of their external relations to a common agent, known as the Congress of the United States, expressly declaring, in the first Article “that each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not, by this Confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.”

Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave (1796) by William Blake.  Citation: Wikimedia/Public domain

Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave (1796) by William Blake.
Citation: Wikimedia/Public domain

Under this Confederation the war of the Revolution was carried on, and on the 3rd of September, 1783, the contest ended, and a definite Treaty was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledged the independence of the Colonies in the following terms: “ARTICLE 1— His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”

Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.

In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the States to revise the Articles of Confederation, and on 17th September, 1787, these Deputies recommended for the adoption of the States, the Articles of Union, known as the Constitution of the United States.

The parties to whom this Constitution was submitted, were the several sovereign States; they were to agree or disagree, and when nine of them agreed the compact was to take effect among those concurring; and the General Government, as the common agent, was then invested with their authority.

If only nine of the thirteen States had concurred, the other four would have remained as they then were– separate, sovereign States, independent of any of the provisions of the Constitution. In fact, two of the States did not accede to the Constitution until long after it had gone into operation among the other eleven; and during that interval, they each exercised the functions of an independent nation.

Burning a Slave, 1741 From Skepticism.org, Original citation: unknown.

Burning a Slave, 1741
From Skepticism.org, Original citation: unknown.

By this Constitution, certain duties were imposed upon the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But to remove all doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people. On the 23d May , 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.

Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.

We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.

We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Adopted December 24, 1860

The real history of the Confederate flag


So, yes. It was about States’ rights–the right to enslave and brutalize human beings for dominance and financial gain. While it is true that the non-slaveholding States were in violation of the Constitution, that violation was caused by the North’s refusal to be a party to the institution of slavery and inhuman brutality–the root cause.

As for the “Heritage not Hate” argument for displaying the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia on public property to honor those who fought for States’ rights, either these supporters are completely ignorant about the real cause of the Civil War, or they know it and don’t care. Both conditions are usually a result of poor parental nurturing in humanity and indifference that has been perpetuated from one generation to another.

All that people of reason and empathy can do is to state their disgust in as civil a manner as possible, demand the removal of all confederate symbols from publically owned property, demand that their politicians institute laws and policies that designed to bring true social justice to the U.S., and ask supporters of the flag to try to see it from the eyes of a poverty ridden, historically repressed population that was subjugated and brutalized beneath it. Perhaps some will listen.

Mothers, Orient your Daughters to Independence and Self Worth . . .

. . . rather than focusing them on society’s empty trivialities such as glamour and becoming eye candy for men.

See The 5 Kick-Ass Women This Mom Dressed Her Daughter As Instead Of A Disney Princess

The only change I would make in the examples presented in the article would be to toss out Coco’s cigarette and add a civil rights activist such as Angela Davis or Rosa Parks.

Okay, I’ll stick my neck out here and go further than the article. At a much younger age for both girls and boys, I suggest orienting the TV programs they watch to subjects about nature (especially non-animated nature) and various subjects of science and cultures. As well, I suggest toys of a more intellectually-nurturing nature such as animals and science oriented toys, puzzles, and games. Avoid toys for boys such as guns, military hardware, and weapon/war figures. Avoid toys for girls such as fluffy dolls and tea sets.

As I’ve mentioned before, along with all this, it is important to teach them empathy for others and the value of sharing.

And before you mothers out there take up torches and pitchforks and come after me for stereotyping mothers, I know that there are many mothers who do much, if not all of the above. You, I salute! You are the path to a better future.

A Wealthy Man of True Integrity

This one speaks for itself.

My Favorite Sound; the Laughter of Children

Times like these are far too rare. We need a lot more of them.

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)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Empathy-Imperative-Max-Furr/dp/1626463220

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

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