|Good and Evil by tomhotovy|
Only compassion defeats dehumanization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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, the British rock musician from Coldplay, held it close during some personally challenging times.
Mohamed Fahmy, the Egyptian-born Canadian journalist, discovered it during 400+ days in Cairo's Scorpion prison.
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.
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.
From CBC Radio's Tapestry:
Sunday October 23, 2016
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."