Sunday, June 07, 2015
The abandonment of empathy. We've all had moments when we've "turned a blind eye". It could be said that, on any given day, we turn away from what goes on around us or what is going on in the far reaches of the world. In most cases we have no ill intent. We're caught in our own crises, lost in our own cosmos. Our neglect is not completely thoughtless. We know that we can be attentive when it really matters. Empathy is a spectrum, a sliding scale. Our "blindness" is akin to the petty crime of the "white lie". When we are presented with human behaviour at its darkest, we can rise to the challenge (when we choose too), and bring an end to the suffering. We don't always act in a timely fashion. Sometimes were culpable, sometimes we're a party to the crimes, and other times we find ourselves powerless or immobilized by timing or circumstance. Every situation is complex and there can't be a tidy solution for every problem. We try our best to fix whatever's broken (even when we are the ones that are doing the breaking). We feel guilt when we don't act. Remorse is just empathy catching up with us. We know that suffering is wrong because empathy allows us to feel the pain of others.we want our lives to be free of suffering. We can see that hope in others too. Our "blind eye" should only be a temporary condition. We justify our turning away because we know that we can turn back to look when we really need to. A flexible relationship to empathy allows for a considered approach to each situation. The greatest danger comes when we decide to abandon empathy. It starts small when we begin to describe empathy as a weakness. When we ridicule people for daring to be sympathetic. When compassion is derided. When a social conscience is seen as a liability. When callousness is admired. When greed is championed. When suffering is legislated. When torture is hidden. When hatred is overt. When oppression is enshrined in law. When empathy is abandoned. When every eye is blind and no one is looking.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Monday, July 21, 2014
Some time ago I wrote a small piece about Trust. http://myideasman.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/some-thoughts-about-truston-several.html It was a reflection on the the notion of 'not trusting anyone'. The basic premise of the piece was that we all trust a myriad of people, and things, and if we didn't we wouldn't get very far in life. This doesn't mean that there are plenty of people that we shouldn't, or can't, trust. I still believe that the people we can trust are in far greater numbers than the ones that we can't. There are always going to be untrustworthy people and the level of mistrust is always going to be a sliding scale that depends on the actions of the other, their reputation, and our expectations that we put upon them. When trust is lost there is always the possibility that trust can be regained. Sometimes that possibility is faint or remote. It usually takes a lot of work by the person, or persons that acted in a way that resulted in trust being lost. It is also very hard work for the person who was betrayed. Forgiveness sounds like it is so very easy but we all know from experience that forgiveness is one of humanities greatest challenges. I think that the worst betrayal of all is when children put their trust in adults, and the adult world that they find themselves in, and that trust is shattered. Small children are so open and trusting in everything that adults tell them. They absorb all manner of information from adults. Sometimes that information is in the form of a lie. The 'white lie' can serve a practical purpose, but as lies slide into darkness they become far more destructive. The instances of children being betrayed by adults are so numerous that they can't all be listed here. Not every loss of trust has to be a direct betrayal. Many children trust that their parents will protect them. Many parents die doing just that. Many parents die with their children from circumstances that are out of their control. Every tiny hand that reaches out to be held is an act of trust. Children trust that their Mum will get them across the road. They trust that Dad won't swing them too high. Many children trust that there will be food on the table. They trust that their house will keep them safe. Their parent's assure them that it's OK to ride their bike or that there are no sharks where they are swimming. We tell our children that 'there are no monsters...not really.' and it's safe to go back to sleep. The Children trust us so much that they follow us, almost, anywhere. We trust in others too and we trust in 'fate' that no harm will come to them. Many people trust in their god or some higher order of things. We tell our children it is safe to play soccer on the beach...we assume that it should be. We send them off to school, or on a trip away, and assume that they will be fine. They hop in a boat or a car and trust that we will take them safely from A to B. We hold their hands and assure them that science and physics will keep the plane in the air. Is all that trust misplaced? Should we trust more in the random nature of things? Should we trust in the greater plan that our gods have for us...even if the plan may seem cruel and heartless? Should we tell our children to expect the worst and be surprised by the best? Is it really our job to crush the wide eyed optimism we see in our children's eyes? Can we trust ourselves to build a better world? I trust that we can do it. I don't pretend it can be easy. It will take love, compassion, understanding, and openness. It will take a lot of hard work by so many generations. The hardest part of all will be to forgive. Our children are trusting in us. Let's take their hand and lead them into a brighter future. image source https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/24508409/bodies-litter-crash-site-mh17/
Saturday, June 07, 2014
Friday, June 21, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Take me. Please! I have always had a fascination with the world outside. I don't just mean the great outdoors or even travelling to other countries. I mean the outer world or the worlds beyond our world. That is not to say that our inner worlds are not equally as fascinating... and then there is the microscopic world and beyond that the worlds we cannot even see. There's the things that are too small for microscopes and the quantum world. A world that won't even let us look at it without putting on a crazy kind of deceptive show. Pretty much everything about ourselves and the universe we inhabit is just downright amazing. However, it is the worlds beyond our own that have captivated me the most. As soon as I had learnt that we lived on a planet (just one of many in our own solar system) and of the possibility of a wealth of other planets around the many millions of stars, I knew that I wanted to see these other worlds. I wouldn't be the first child who longed to travel into outer space and I know I won't be the last to have that dream. I hope that I do live to see the day when somebody fulfils that shared hope. I was a wee boy sitting on my father's lap when we made it to the Moon. I watched the live broadcast though being only two and a half years old I don't remember a single thing about that day. I was raised on the promise that it wouldn't be too long before we were all travelling to the Moon and beyond. Progress has slowed of late...but you never know, maybe my kids may have that chance. When I was growing up, the promise of interplanetary travel was very real to me . It was one of the few things that my young mind could be certain about, that and the fact that the universe just had to be brimming with life. Not just any life but a multitude of grand and ancient civilisations that had been visiting us for millennia or at the very least were itching to meet us as much as we them. I use to stand in the back yard at night peering up at the stars. Being from a small country town light pollution was not a really a problem. You could still see the arc of the Milky Way on the average moonless night. I used to stand with my arms outstretched and call out to the sky "Hello Aliens, I'm down here. Come and take me a way in your spaceship. I'll tell you everything you need to know about life here on Earth." Needless to say they never took up my offer. I can't think why. A ten year old humanoid earth boy is what every self respecting alien needs as a font of information, sidekick and confidant. It wasn't that I couldn't wait to get away from my family (really!) or that I longed to leave the Earth. I just knew that there was more out there and I saw no reason why I shouldn't be the one chosen to explore it. I would have made an excellent ambassador for our world. I love humans... despite our many flaws. I wanted the aliens to understand the wonder that we felt in our hearts. I was a wide eyed idealist and I'm proud to say that I still am today. Our world offers up many challenges and I know that life is not some sort of hunky dory Disney dream. Indeed, life can be an absolute nightmare... sometimes. Mostly it is a grand adventure and the borders between good and a bad dreams have always been a little bit blurred. I still look up to the stars whenever I get the chance. I don't call out aloud like I once did. I expect that if your a super advanced intergalactic traveller then telepathy would be the order of the day. I'd love to fly off with a benign intelligence just as long as they don't mind taking my family along for the ride. I imagine it is quite hard to hitch a lift when you need at least five seats and enough Milo for the return journey.