I read you recent journal entry, and I agree with your point of view. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I think compassion and empathy is a moral obligation we all have to each other and to the world at large. It's dissapointing that the millennium was such a lot of glitter and fanfare, but the real opportunity it presented for us to turn a new leaf has been largely overlooked. All it takes for the world to be a better place is for people to believe sincerely that it can be and ought to be, and then to make a conscious decision to be good people themselves. We don't all have to be saints, just decent human beings. That's not magic or pie-in-the sky idealism... it's common sense.
|Subject: Compassion and Empathy|
Posted Apr 11, 2001 by Ariel
This is a reply to this Posting.
As my father is fond of saying, "the thing about common sense is that it is all too uncommon."
I agree, it seems so straightforward, so obvious even. I have been thinking lately about how difficult it appears to be for people to identify with others, even those from our own culture. I think it is, in part, our precious egos that tend to make us do instantaneous comparions to see how each of us "measures up" according to some scheme our culture provides us with. They create illusions of separeteness. Instead if looking at someone and seeing a person, like ourselves, we see the color of their skin, their religion, their occupation, their political affiliation. We ask: Who has the most toys? Who has the newer car? Who is smarter? Everyone wants to see how much "better" they are than everyone else. We emphasize the differences, forgetting the fundamentals that are essentially the same.
Cultures war over lines drawn in the sand, often by people with little or no understanding of the places and people they divide up on paper. People feel justified in their actions because they "are in the right". I find that kind of hubris frightening... the idea of a shepard tending a flock to me is backward thinking.
I am struck by similarities that echo throughout the story of humanity over thousands of years. Simple truths like a mother's love for her children, the joy a child has in running as fast as she can, that people die and are missed, that people can be corrupted by whatever passes as wealth in that instant of time or seduced by power, that we seem to have an impulse toward the divine, that life can be so hard at times, that we can create great beauty, that some people are willing to die for what they believe in even if they are wrong, that we can create great horror, that some people are cowards, that in the end, we need each other. We share hunger and satiety, sorrow and joy, pain and ecstasy, birth and death, faith and disbelief. Why is mutual respect, compassion and empathy so difficult?
Well said. What a bunch of mixed up monkeys we are!
One of the most attractive features of this place is that it is a friendly venue for people of all persuasions, from all over the planet, to have a nice chat and begin to feel less like strangers. So far this has been a defining characteristic of h2g2, and I think it is worth making an effort to preserve.
Some time ago I started a little project I called The Tibetan Greenhouse Dugout. I invite people to have a wander around and, if the fancy takes them, to contribute something, hopefully something inspired by the collection of offerings left by others. I hope you like it.
Please note that Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of any external sites listed. The content on h2g2 is created by h2g2's Researchers, who are members of the public. Unlike Edited Guide Entries, the content on this page has not necessarily been checked by a h2g2 editor. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please