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The #Compassion #Project, Only #Compassion #Defeats #Dehumanization

Different from empathy and sympathy compassion is the strength to be willing to try and ease someone's suffering, to help them ho...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

#Compassion & #Dehumanization, Firmly #Defining #Good & #Evil

Good and Evil by tomhotovy

Only compassion defeats dehumanization.

In associating the terms Good and Evil with the terms Compassion and Dehumanization I refer to the following definitions:
Compassion is that which values and respects the existence of a being by supporting and helping build it up.
Dehumanization is that which devalues and disrespects the existence of a being by breaking it down and exploiting it.

Life without defined meaning has no clear purpose and little potential for happiness, just survival.

This is an attempt to establish a stable foundation acceptable to both religion and philosophy simple enough to not pose inherent conflicts and to allow no room for equivocation or misinterpretation, yet applicable to all ethical situations and questions as part of an ethical framework.

I am trying to find a better, clear definition for Good and Evil. If you aren't clear on what they mean, how can you begin to judge the balance of your actions. How do you know when you are Good? If  it's all relative, there is no morality, just opinion. It is not just benefit or detriment, positive versus negative, because both are often present at the same time. One action can produce both effects in varying proportions and an intended benefit can become an unintentional detriment. "The Road to Hell..." and all that.  Because we base everything, particularly religion, culture, laws, and politics, on these ideas, they should be better understood by all. A lack of clear definition results in a fog of confused communication that generates frustration and anger, making matters worse. Assigning different sounds and meanings to the same Latin  and Arabic symbols is what began to differentiate many European languages, for example.

It has been the historical norm that anything we view as less than human gets abused, exploited, or destroyed. No one and nothing is less than human. Composed of tiny parts, the universe and most things in it are far greater in comparison with a human. We are all insignificant and vital. Even the food-chain isn't a true hierarchy. Apex predators are continually being eaten alive, and pooped on, by external and internal microbes without which we can't survive. Ecosystems are symbiotic. Everything depends on everything else. A single reproducing virus can wipe out every lion in the world. It could take us down long before all the lions could. Everything is essentially equal and always greater in combination. Every design element, worker's touch, screw, cog, spring, fiber of wood, and particle of plastic, contributes to the orderly operation of the machine.

Only we have the arrogance to believe otherwise. To believe ourselves gods in fact, not in potential. We have dehumanized each other and the natural world in our minds and are on our way to dehumanizing the planet, literally, in fact. That's Evil.

Regardless if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, animist, druid, or atheist, when you call for the harm of innocents, you commit to the satanic faith in terror and control. Calling for purity of ethnicity, nationality, ideology, or religion, is a cornerstone of evil. The only truly pure thing is compassion. Only compassion defeats dehumanization, stemming the flow of bodies fuelling the death in search of meaning, purpose, and purification.

Different from empathy and sympathy compassion is the strength to be willing to try and ease someone's suffering, to help them hold on and eventually stand up, or to let go at the end, yourself included. Equality, love, forgiveness, and peace, all require compassion to be real and lasting.
Compassion defines Goodness and is its foundation. Dehumanization defines and is the root of all Evil. One is not the absence of the other or the opposite. They can't get confused and are definitely not relative to perspective. Our present definitions of good and evil are far to fuzzy and relativistic.

A truly consistent moral philosophy  must be grounded on firm, absolute, principles. Its foundational axioms must be stable to bear the weight of life. Good and evil have no shades between them. The move toward evil is a reduction in the wiliness to be compassionate. It is active resistance just as dehumanization is active. Good person doing nothing, staying silent, or being willfully blind, is a choice to restrain their compassion. A choice not to act. A hardened heart cannot beat. Psychopaths biologically lack compassion, born, made, or taught evil. But many more develop it through choice and practice. To become evil you have to actively turn away from good.

You can turn back. It's your choice.
A dehumanizing act can't generate compassion, it only reduces it. Thus the ends never justify the means. There is no "lesser" evil, no shades of dehumanization, only degrees of unwillingness to be compassionate. Dehumanization is never good and compassion is never evil.

Compassion isn't positivity, but it is positive. It isn't patience, tolerance, understanding, kindness, charity, or love. It is their basis and only hope of development. Dehumanization isn't negativity, it is the destruction of care and respect for life and its constituents. That makes it negative.

Dehumanization is necessary only for war, slavery, murder, assault, rape, theft , and exploitation (etc.). There is no necessary evil. Compassion is never competitive with itself. There is is no rivalry of goods, just a common good.

Quantum physics reveals that observation influences, potentially defines, what is observed. It seems there are no particles, only forces, until we observe their speed or position.  It needn't require human observation, the perception of any existent thing might be enough. A atom's "awareness" of neighboring atoms as a result of interacting or common forces and exchanged particles for example. Some form of elementary communication. Quantum particles can even be entangled so that a change in one causes the same change in the other at the same time. "Spooky action at a distance."

Engaged awareness matters and has an effect, even across apparently vast divides of space and time.

A firm definition of good and evil may also clear up other relative terms, ones that you recognize only when you see them. Dehumanization is obscene. Obscenity is the expression of dehumanization, without compassion. Art uses dehumanization in it its  techniques and images to objectify and reveal the dehumanization and subject in order to build compassion, not  reduce it. Art is communication not exploitation. The medium, tool, technique, image, object, or subject, is less than human but speaks to humanity in order to explore, reveal, and development. It can be pleasurable, entertaining, provoking, or horrifying but isn't obscene or evil unless it lacks compassion.

Beneficial drugs are compassionate in use, though can become toxic in the wrong dose or chemical circumstances. They help the person hold on and eventually stand up, if possible. Their unfortunate side-effects are problems in delivery, targeting, and the complexity of the compounds, not because they are good or evil substances. Toxic drugs and addictions dehumanize those affected.

Hunting as a game is evil. Hunting as a respectful part of a natural life can be compassionate. 

Pain and pleasure aren't good or evil in themselves. Pain can draw awareness, encourage compassion, and enable healing. Pleasure gained from dehumanization isn't good. Justice is compassionate, revenge is dehumanizing. Punishment must be compassionate or it becomes torture. Peace without compassion is tyranny. Good comedy hits us in the face with life's absurdity. Laughter is how we cope, an expression of compassion for the absurd. A good tragedy does the same from the opposite point of view. Fair-use and free-trade without compassion is exploitation.

Compassion informs beauty and dehumanization ugliness, the rest is just appearance and perception.

Look in the mirror. What do you see staring back from under the surface? Are you better able to judge the balance of your actions?

Only compassion defeats dehumanization.

Selfishness is the root of all evil. Compassion is the source of all good and grace. Selfishness weakens all involved, dividing with fear that becomes hate. Compassion strengthens giver and receiver while uniting both in hope. Selfishness creates the view that only the self is human and "dehumanizes" everyone and everything else. Compassion recognizes the value inherent in every life as equal and sees the self's humanity in reflected in others. By hurting others you hurt yourself and by helping others you help yourself. Self-care is the self compassion required to be able to help others and is not selfishness. You need to be healthy yourself to be able able to be compassionate to others. When you are in pain, you can't only think of yourself, that's natural.

Compassion is constructive and cooperative; the giver building strength by helping to lift up another being to the same level so that both may rise higher. One boosts the other in turn, each making up for what the other lacks. If one falls the other catches them and helps them hold on onto they can find their footing. Together they progress to the top. Selfishness is competitive and destructive, seeking to raise the self by knocking down or climbing over others. Each seeks advantage over the other and fears giving anything away lest they join the mass of losers knocked to the bottom. The selfish hoard their advantage and reach the temporary goal first but waste and devalue the effort of everyone else.  Only they are worthy. They can only see their own point of view and reflection in others. They fear that others are like them and will knock them to the bottom as readily.  Placing themselves on a pedestal they project their own insecurities and failings upon others to protect their precarious perch and judge all others by their limited experience, often being most harsh when they see their own sins in others. The compassionate see the potential for themselves to also fall and are recognize that no one is without sin. They seek to understand not condemn, to help not punish, to heal not harm, to build up rather than break down. 

The selfish can't build or negotiate because that takes cooperation and compromise, compassion for the position of the other. Driven by fear they can only divide in hope of climbing to the top of their competitive pile. Fear becomes anger and hate. The selfish compete to be the winner with all but one ending up losers. The compassionate cooperate and everyone wins. 

One of the problems with the concept of altruism is that its supposed to be selfless. The argument comes up that it is actually selfish because doing good make s you feel good so it's not selfless. Compassion gets around this. Feeling good because you are being compassionate is just showing compassion for yourself. It is the reward for doing something positive that reinforce the behaviors thus strengthening your compassion. A virtuous circle.

Life is a school where we are challenged to learn to use our free will for compassion instead of selfishness, compassion for ourselves and others. In my theological understanding the degree of success you achieve in learning this determines the amount of responsibility with which you will be entrusted in the existence that comes next, whatever form that may take. The important thing is doing our best to fulfill our life's purpose here and now. It's all we have. If we don't make it a compassionate world it will become a dehumanized one. It's up to us.

 From CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition:

Sunday October 09, 2016

The Meaningful Man

Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” in nine fevered days. Tens of millions of copies have been sold in more than 30 countries. (Getty Images)

Listen 50:53

A chronicle of survival and a call to life, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning continues to change people's lives generation after generation. The book is part memoir, part manifesto, and part discourse on human psychology. Written in 1946, after Viktor Frankl survived four Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Man's Search for Meaning describes how he endured the camps, and how to find meaning in the face of suffering.  
Seven decades after it was first published, it continues to inspire readers.
Chris Martin
Chris Martin says “Man’s Search for Meaning” has had a profound influence on his music. (AP/Matt Slocum)
Chris Martin, the British rock musician from Coldplay, held it close during some personally challenging times.
Mohamed  Fahmy
Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy used "Man's Search for Meaning" to help him endure pain, fear and loneliness during his imprisonment. (CP/Fred Chartrand)
Mohamed Fahmy, the Egyptian-born ­Canadian journalist, discovered it during 400+ days in Cairo's Scorpion prison.
Anna Redsand
Anna Redsand was inspired to write the biography, “Viktor Frankl, A Life Worth Living” when she saw how Frankl’s book helped kids who felt their lives were without hope.
Anna Redsand wrote a biography of Frankl geared for young readers, when she discovered that the book spoke to the adolescents she works with in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In this special hour about Man's Search for Meaning (originally broadcast in April 2016), we explore the ongoing resonance of one of the most influential books of the  twentieth century. 
We meet Viktor Frankl himself, in an interview with Roy Bonisteel of CBC television's Man Alive.
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Man Alive: Viktor Frankl21:15
We meet Donna Johnson, who visited Frankl's widow, and the room where the book was written; Rob McCormick, who uses the book's message in his work on Indigenous healing; Stephanie Sliekers, who Michael Enright met on a busy Toronto streetcar and for whom Man's Search for Meaning has been a cancer survival tool; and Viktor Frankl's biographer, Haddon Klingberg.\
Dr. Balfour Mount, the father of palliative care in North America, invited Frankl to Canada for his last visit here, and continues to be influenced – personally and professionally – by his ideas.

The following comes from BBC Earth. I have a suggestion for the philosophers struggling to find a better word than "Altruism" and it isn't "pro-sociality". There is such a thing as true compassion. Evolution uses random genetic mutation creating trade-off and mixed effects. Not all traits are beneficial or successful adaptions. Some are leftovers or mistakes that got carried along, like a genetic disorder or disease. Compassion is socially and individually beneficial, strengthening both beyond the cost.

There is no such thing as a truly selfless act

It is another peaceful day on the savannah. Herds of buffalo mill around, chewing the cud and flicking their ears to keep the flies at bay. On their backs, tiny oxpecker birds hop here and there to remove tiny skin parasites, unnoticed by their large hosts.
But there is a dark undertone to this tranquil scene. Closer examination has revealed that oxpeckers do more than simply clean their hosts' skin. Some of them are poking away at open wounds and feeding on buffalo blood.
It seems like even this famous symbiotic arrangement between large herbivores and grooming birds is hampered by organisms' inherent tendency to be selfish.
In fact, this might be a general rule. Mutualistic interactions in nature are often regarded as unstable, precisely because one partner will generally take advantage of the other given half a chance.
This suggests that selfishness is a dominant force in nature; an inevitable symptom of the "survival of the fittest" mantra. So is there any such thing as a truly selfless act? And how should we interpret human acts of charity?
Darwin was a diligent thinker. He agonised over any example he came across of organisms behaving in a way that seemed to run counter to his idea of evolution through natural selection. He soon recognised altruism as "one special difficulty, which at first appeared to me to be […] fatal to the whole theory".
"He who was ready to sacrifice his life," he fretted in The Descent of Man, "would often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature." How can genes for selflessness propagate if the heroes carrying them spend more time doing good deeds than ensuring their own survival?
Not only are these animals placing the safety of others above their own, they are playing with very high stakes
All sorts of animals seem to be capable of acts of kindness. Primates groom their peers, birds warn each other when they see a predator, and African wild dogs will look after pups belonging to their fellow pack members.
These altruistic behaviours do not necessarily carry a significant cost in terms of an individual's chances of survival, but some other examples do.
Take Belding's ground squirrel. This rodent is found in the mountains of the north-western US, where it lives in sociable groups and provides a delicious snack for various birds of prey and predatory mammals.
When a predator approaches a colony of ground squirrels, the individual who sees it will delay fleeing in order to emit a series of noises, alerting its fellows to the imminent danger.
This is exactly what concerned Darwin. Not only are these animals placing the safety of others above their own, they are playing with very high stakes. Research has demonstrated that making certain calls increases the likelihood of an individual ground squirrel ending up as lunch.
About 100 years after Darwin first published his theory, biologists finally formalised a hypothesis that could explain such baffling behaviour.
Alarm calls are in fact a function of entrenched nepotism in squirrel society
A potentially apocryphal story helps explain the basis of this hypothesis. When J.B.S. Haldane, co-founder of the "modern synthesis" of evolution, was asked if he would throw himself into a river to save his brother, he replied: "No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins."
This is the concept of kin selection, which was formalised in 1963 by the highly influential biologist W.D. Hamilton.
According to Hamilton, the altruistic behaviour of an individual ground squirrel is easy to explain when the selfless act is put into its proper context. One animal might be prepared to sacrifice its life – and its ability to reproduce – in order to raise the chances of its relatives surviving and breeding.
Relatives share many of your genes, so they can be considered as proxies for your own evolutionary success and – as per Haldane's statement – the closer the relative, the better.
Kin selection might explain the most extreme form of self-sacrifice in nature: eusociality
Ground squirrels, it turns out, are a textbook example of kin selection.
Paul Sherman, a researcher at Cornell University, spent three years in the 1970s monitoring populations of ground squirrels, paying particular attention to their familial relationships. His conclusion was that alarm calls are in fact a function of entrenched nepotism in squirrel society, with individuals more likely to emit them if there are relatives nearby.
Hamilton also suggested that kin selection might explain the most extreme form of self-sacrifice in nature: eusociality.
The average honeybee, ant or termite has pretty limited options in life. They inhabit highly cooperative colonies where, unless you are queen, you must pay the ultimate evolutionary price: your reproductive ability. The societies these animals form are what biologists call "eusocial" ones.
Since Hamilton, kin selection has been the most popular explanation for this counterintuitive phenomenon, although there have been various modifications to his original proposal. The fact that ants in the same colony are all sisters explains why one member might sacrifice her reproductive capacity, and even her life, for the good of the colony.
A vampire bat cannot go for more than 36 hours without a meal
Arguments have been traded back and forth over whether or not eusociality results from kin selection alone, and indeed over how significant kin selection is in general.
But whatever the conclusion, the idea of genetic ties lying at the heart of selfless behaviour is now an important tenet of evolutionary biology.
However, there is another key theory concerning altruism that has proved rather more contentious.
In 1984 Gerald Wilkinson from the University of Maryland, USA, reported on food sharing in vampire bats. This is a fairly disgusting process that involves bats regurgitating blood into each other's mouths, but it is also a necessary one. A vampire bat cannot go for more than 36 hours without a meal, so regular food sharing can save some animals from starving.
Wilkinson's observations were of note because while the bats do live in groups with other family members, they were preferentially helping those who were the hungriest, not just those with whom they shared genes.
What Wilkinson had uncovered was the best example to date of a concept, previously proposed by eminent evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, known as reciprocal altruism.
Reciprocal altruism is a model wherein animals help unrelated individuals and accept a short-term loss if it means a long-term gain. So if a starving bat is helped by a well-fed one, the action is done because of some deep, unconscious instinct that in the future the tables might be turned: today's starving bat might be tomorrow's well-fed one.
This suggests that all forms of altruism evolve for selfish means, at least in terms of the survival of genes
"You can think of this as 'social capital' – when vampire bats go hungry they depend on a network of family and friends," says Gerald Carter, a researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Toronto, who previously completed a PhD under Wilkinson. Carter has since worked on strengthening the case for reciprocal altruism in these bats, responding to claims that even this behaviour can be ascribed to kin selection.
While kin selection has seen wide acceptance both on theoretical and empirical grounds, reciprocal altruism has been harder to pin down, not least because it involves long-term – even lifetime – monitoring of animals to determine costs versus benefits.
But the real issue with both kin selection and reciprocal altruism is that, by our standards, they are not particularly altruistic. Both seem to exist only because they actually benefit the "altruist", albeit in a roundabout sort of way.
This suggests that all forms of altruism evolve for selfish means, at least in terms of the survival of genes. Trivers acknowledge this point when he stated that models of altruistic behaviour in terms of natural selection "take the altruism out of altruism".
So where does that leave humans? Surely we are capable of no-strings-attached charitable acts?
Perhaps we are, says Jonathan Birch, a philosopher of science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I have seen nothing special about the human brain
"We should distinguish 'biological altruism' from 'psychological altruism'," he says. "Biological altruism is action that has consequences for reproduction – it causes the altruist to reproduce less and the beneficiary to reproduce more."
"Psychological altruism is action motivated by concern for others – something humans do a lot."
The question is whether our psychological altruism – what we might call "true altruism" – is uniquely human or whether it has deeper evolutionary connections to the altruism seen in other animals.
Michael Platt, a neurobiologist at Duke University, USA, who has spent years investigating the neurological mechanisms that underlie decision making in animals, thinks that animals and humans have more in common than we might imagine.
The factors motivating us to be "psychologically" altruistic are probably shared with at least our primate cousins
"From my own point of view, the notion of 'true altruism' is probably a bit misplaced," says Platt. "I have seen nothing special about the human brain that distinguishes motivated behaviours that benefit another individual compared with monkey brains, or even rat brains."
Platt and his colleagues have undertaken behavioural experiments with rhesus macaques that reveal a degree of charitable behaviour to their fellows. Monkeys, like us, are social animals, and such behaviour might be an adaptive strategy that allowed us all to build and maintain social bonds.
When the researchers conducted brain scans on the monkeys, they identified brain cells that are associated with giving rewards to another individual. Crucially, these cells inhabit a part of the brain that is active in humans when we are empathising with other individuals.
This type of observation suggests that the factors motivating us to be "psychologically" altruistic are probably shared with at least our primate cousins, and maybe other animals as well.
"When people are motivated to help a refugee from Syria, or give to Oxfam, I think that motivation is deriving from this brain circuitry," says Platt.
More than any other animals, we are products of our culture
"Of all the differences between man and the lower animals," wrote Darwin. "The moral sense or conscience is by far the most important." Does Platt's evidence that links our "true" altruism with the apparently selfish instincts of animals devalue this "moral sense", and the charitable actions that result from it?
"Some people have suggested that evolutionary explanations of morality show it to be a kind of illusion. After all, natural selection doesn't care about right and wrong," says Birch. "But I think a lot of this involves overselling the role of natural selection, and underselling the role of cultural evolution."
More than any other animals, we are products of our culture, and the addition of cultural evolution to the mix makes comprehending our own behaviour that extra bit more difficult.
"It's less clear that cultural evolution is a fundamentally amoral process," says Birch. "So a story of human altruism as the product of cultural evolution is potentially more 'morality-friendly' than a story based solely on genetic evolution."
But culture aside, there is a danger in entirely separating us from animals, and in writing off altruism by natural selection as inherently selfish.

The capability for altruism displayed by chimpanzees, for example, has been compared with that observed in young human children. A paper published in January 2016 even seems to show voles consoling each other in times of distress; behaviour that the researchers linked with similar neurochemistry to that of empathetic humans.
If we can understand why people do this, I think we will be aiming towards a greater good
"To suggest that monkeys and other non-human animals are just motivated by instinctive drives is belied by the evidence," says Platt. If we consider ourselves a species capable of selflessness, then we may have to conclude that at least some non-human species share that capability.
"Drawing a hard and fast line between humans and animals would impede progress in understanding how and why we are motivated to give to others," he concludes.
"Investigating this subject will hopefully tell us how to bring out those 'better angels of our nature'. If we can understand why people do this, I think we will be aiming towards a greater good."
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From CBC Radio's Tapestry:

Sunday October 23, 2016

Compassion: the centuries-old solution to violence

"If the world needs anything at the moment, it is compassion.
I'm not in this because I'm filled with love and peace and joy.
I'm in it because I'm filled with dread."
- Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is an author, commentator and former nun who has written extensively on faith and finding commonality in the world's major religions. She was a featured speaker at the 3rd Global Conference on World's Religions After September 11, which was held in Montreal in September 2016.

Armstrong argues that religion is too often a scapegoat, masking the real reasons for violence, hatred, and war. She points out that territorial, political, cultural and - above all - economic motives are to blame.

Religion may be inherently political, Armstrong says, but every single one of the world's major religions call for the same solution to violence: compassion.

Karen Armstrong speaking at the 3rd Global Conference on World's Religions After September 11. The event was held in Montreal in September 2016. (Photo: Eva Blue)

Compassion is the essence of the Golden Rule: love thy neighbour.

"The Golden Rule requires that you look into your own heart, discover what has given you pain in the past, and then refuse under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict that pain on anybody else."

This sentiment has been echoed by all the great prophets, including Confucius, Mohammed, Jesus, the Buddha, and Hillel the Elder.

"These sages, they were living in societies like our own where violence had reached an unprecedented crescendo. And they all said that unless we learn to treat others as we would wish to be treated we'll simply destroy one another. And that has never been more true than it is today."

Armstrong says 'love thy neighbour' doesn't refer to a sort of "soggy affection". Instead, it means assisting people in practical terms: coming to their aid in times of trouble and supporting them even when it goes against our short term interests.

"Who is my neighbour in this globalized world? Everybody is our neighbour. We are now so deeply interconnected."

Armstrong urges us to follow the lead of the Buddha.

"The Buddha looked at the world… with compassion and saw the world in pain and spent the next 40 years of his life trying to help people to live with their pain. This is our message now. This is what every one of us can do: to increase awareness of the pain of the world, to let it disturb us. It's not easy... We should all be sweating with the effort of how to bring the message of compassion - that alone can save our world - to public awareness."
 Compassion Project post
  #Chalkboard art #quote ToniKami ⊱CհαƖҜ ℒЇℕ℮⊰ #Compassion Aqua blue

Everything is Always in Process
Only Compassion Defeats Dehumanization