liveonearth: (Default)
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stand at times of challenge and controversy.
—Martin Luther King Jr.
liveonearth: (Default)
The morning question: What good shall I do today?
The evening question: What good have I done today?
~ Ben Franklin
liveonearth: (moon)
For me, the characteristic features of a mystlcial and therefore untrustworthy, theory are that it is not refutable, that it appeals to authority, that it relies heavily on anecdote, that is makes a virtue of consensus (look how many people believe like me!), and that it takes the high moral ground.  You will notice that this applies to most religions.
--Matt Ridley in Evolution of Everything; How New Ideas Emerge, page 270
liveonearth: (dont_be_heavy)

"If one allows the infidels
to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth,
their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger.
Thus, if we kill the infidels
in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities,
we have indeed done them a service.
For their eventual punishment will be less.
To allow the infidels to stay alive
means to let them do more corrupting.
[To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator."

--Ayatollah Khomeini, 1984

liveonearth: (critter 2)

Don't forget: We live during the least violent time in all of recorded human history. We have done this by abandoning tribalism and embracing the, cosmically speaking, very new ideas of compassion and empathy. What we are seeing are the death throws of an old morality, where honor and vengeance and the death you could inflict were how you judged yourself as a person.

So the proper response to a terrorist attack shouldn't be hate or bloodlust, but pity; pity for a group actively choosing to be forgotten and disregarded by the long eye of history.

--Keegan Blackler

liveonearth: (Witch_reads_by_fire)
I hold the most archaic values on earth; the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth; the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.
--Gary Snyder
liveonearth: (Default)
In the process of googling various symbols that might be developed into a logo for my medical practice (I was studying on the rod of Aesclepius vs the rampant American confusion with the Caduceus) I ran across a blog that is distinctly American right wing Christian conservative in nature. The image that drew me in was this so-called "Obama Screw-U", which is derived from the Caduceus symbolizing treachery and profiteering:

That was humorous, but not exactly fair or kind. After a bit more surfing I found an article on Leftwing Pathology that posits that left wingers are essentially psychopathic. I will bypass the commentary on this page because in general it is name calling and not productive. But I do see how this is completely true from the conservative perspective.

Conservatism, most basically, is a limbic or mammalian mindedness emphasizing deep emotional connections, visceral aversions, and a strong instinctive sense of rightness vs wrongness. Liberalism is neocortical, involving the ability to weigh conflicting theories and integrate disparate data. To conservatives, liberals are immoral, or even psychopathic because they don't act from their hearts and guts. Liberals think about it, and make decisions based on information. The liberal method doesn't appreciate the power of people's personal attachments and belief systems. It hurts people's feelings. To the liberal, conservatives are dimwits who can't think rationally about anything. Of course the conservatives feel that they are the rational ones, they just consider different things to constitute "information".

It's about as bad as trying to get Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other.

Conservatives feel a great deal more emotional pain when they are asked to act contrary to their own values. Liberals are expert at rationalizing--or neocorticalizing, if you will. Liberals are capable of acting more like a psychopath and being indifferent to pain both inside and around them.

But there's a spectrum. Some people are nearer the middle between emotional/instinctive/believing and intellectual/rationalizing/skeptical. Some can see both sides. Our limbic systems are intact and we can love deeply and hold values that matter, at the same time that our neocortices are developed enough to see that sometimes fairness that hurts is better in the long run than unfairness that feels safe and good. Maybe we could spend a little more time and energy trying to understand and be human to each other. We may not be able to develop policy that satisfies the deeply held attachments of conservatives, but we can at least acknowledge when the situation calls for deeply painful compromise, and try to be kind. The liberal who can't understand conservatives is more foolish than the conservative that can't understand liberals.
liveonearth: (part of the solution)
No one has to do everything
but everyone has to do something.

liveonearth: (Default)
I read this that is the fastest spreading viral video of all time. Of course there is controversy around it. As far as I know Joseph Kony really does kidnap kids and make them into murderers and sex slaves. So why not make sure he goes down this year? I like it. World community comes to bear on bad apple because of youtube. What next?

However hardly anybody is giving money to the cause. We all feel rich enough to share the link, but we, myself included, don't feel rich or involved enough to give money to a far-away cause. How can we induce world-tribe behavior? Can it be done? Or is it antithetical to true human nature? We are tribal, but it appears to me that our tribe is not extended by way of computer or television screens. I think that we need to touch and smell each other to feel that the other is part of our tribe.

I can't help but to wonder what happened to this man to make him so vicious. He is human too. How did his compassion get stripped away?
liveonearth: (pope headslap)
Morality is moral
only when
it is voluntary

--Lincoln Steffens, journalist
liveonearth: (Default)
I mean, I AM allowed to just go off about what I think, right? That seems to be what the majority of moralizing politicians do these days. It amazes me how surely the devil will assume high moral ground and dictate from it. The adjectives are awesome. Misguided. Dangerous. Wrongheaded. That last one is a particular favorite of mine. Did Shrub invent that word?

But seriously now. People seem to think that if something FEELS right then it is right. What if it feels right and is wrong? What if your gut is misguided? What if your certainty is wrongheaded? When do we begin to resort to intelligent consideration of trends and patterns, not just impressions based on isolated facts?
liveonearth: (Default)
A worthwhile read. Draws a distinction between ethnic religions and universal ones. Ethnic ones are value systems based on maintaining a tribe. Universal ones transcend tribal identity. Non-procreative sex, ie homosexuality, is banned by ethic mores but in universal terms is seen more openly.
liveonearth: (tree trunks)
As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it’s only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it’s gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.
--J. Michael Straczynski
liveonearth: (Default)
He recently said that an anti-abortion position is a libertarian position based on faith. Faith in what? The bogusness of global warming? HIS god? I am offended. Faith has no legitimacy as a basis for social law, because we don't all have faith in the same things. I had thought that Ron Paul was for the true and full separation of church and state, and that he could be counted on to keep them separate in his own dealings. He has just proven me wrong. The man I had thought was the last moral politician has fallen by the wayside. It all comes down to that same old debate about when life begins.

liveonearth: (Default)
Excerpted from Tolstoy's "Rules of Life" written when he was 18 years old:
· Get up early (five o’clock)
· Go to bed early (nine to ten o’clock)
· Eat little and avoid sweets
· Try to do everything by yourself
· Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for every minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater
· Keep away from women
· Kill desire by work
· Be good, but try to let no one know it
· Always live less expensively than you might
· Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer
liveonearth: (Default)
America produces remorseless killers in bulk. One hundred years ago, Jack the Ripper riveted the attention of the Western world by doing away with five people. This culture would barely notice such modest exploits--so many have surpassed the quaintly amateurish Ripper that we cannot remember their names, much less their crimes. Squadrons of soulless assassins do not germinate by chance. These avenging Phoenixes arise from the neural wreckage of what once could have been a healthy human being.
--Lewis, Amini and Lannon, A General Theory of Love, p281

This quote out of context may be a little confusing but let me just say that this book explains why we have so many youth who can and do torture and kill other living beings. Without compunction. It has to do with a lack of proper limbic bonding in infancy, and the ensuing lack of development of the communal and familial mammalian brain. Our current cultural climate has everything to do with a multiple generation emphasis on success in the workplace at the expense of family and community, and it has everything to do with horrific parenting practices such as the (supposedly character-building) neglect espoused by Dr Spok.


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