“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
— Dalai Lama
In any vision that I can conceive of of a healthy society, love and compassion are crucial. Empathy is a close third. It’s not necessarily a matter of walking a mile in each other’s shoes as being willing to understand why they undertook the walk and perhaps be willing to rub their feet afterwards. Or perhaps that is taking the metaphor a bit too far.
Far too often we willfully misunderstand each other. I know that there have been people of whom I was so sure that I would disagree that as soon as they started talking I would listen carefully until they said one phrase that I could misconstrue as wrong. It didn’t matter to me that I was taking it out of context. I just wanted to prove them wrong. Eventually a friend helped me out of that, by rubbing my face in what I was doing. I gradually became aware of how often it was happening and started working on it. I at least hope that’s getting better.
Where were we? Oh yeah, love and compassion and perhaps allowance. Allowing people to be who they are not just in an embrace diversity tolerance way but in a way that we acknowledge their choices in the same way we acknowledge our own. While we’re at it that might become easier, once we start forgiving our own mistakes and be a bit more compassionate and loving towards ourselves. Blessings, G
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“One must assume responsibility for being in a weird world,” he said. “We are in a weird world, you know.”
I nodded my head affirmatively.
“We’re not talking about the same thing,” he said. “For you the world is weird because if you’re not bored with it you’re at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.”
–Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
I’ve been thinking a lot about responsibility lately. Particularly our responsibility for living in this world. Responsibility and I tend to have been at odds more often than not. Oh I’ve always been willing to own up to it when I’ve fallen short of doing what I’m supposed to do but following though has been problematic in the past. That changed a lot when we adopted my son Zev. When you have other people counting on you, certain things just fall into place.
More and more often I’ve been thinking about my responsibility as someone who lives in this world. What are my responsibilities to my fellow beings on this planet?Or as a friend said to me recently, “How do you feel for everyone as your child?” So how do we do it? The word for feeling someone’s suffering and doing what you can to ease it is compassion. How do we raise the level of compassion in ourselves and then teach it to others? At this point I have to say that my answer is still, “I don’t know” I feel it has something to do with awareness and honesty
One of the assumptions I’ve always had has been that as soon as I know something I am responsible for it. This assumption has caused me to stop friends from telling me about the misdoings of others. It has also caused me to want to share my experiences and what I learn. Yet, if this is true and I allow myself knowledge of political misdoings and economic injustices that happen every day, where does my responsibility lie? Does it make a difference if I am a bit conflicted over just what can be done? It seems so often that even when I read of what’s going on, or join a march or boycott, I still don’t fully feel it. Part of me wonders about the effectiveness of these techniques. Part of me wonders how much I am letting myself feel my knowledge, feel the suffering of people more effected by these things than I am. Sometimes it feels like I have hung wallpaper over a hole in my being. How do I break through that wallpaper to find my heart? Again, finding answers still in progress. Blessings, G
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“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda
Now there’s a quote that gives me chills. Edward L. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and in many ways could be considered a godfather of modern culture. He was definitely the father of public relations. As a young man he worked for the Committee on Public Relations which helped sell American involvement in WWI to Europeans. He came back home to the United States with the idea that the propaganda model he learned could have peace time applications and so became the first public relations representative.
Among other things that he was responsible for was:
Making it publicly respectable for women to smoke in public (by selling the concept as ‘torches of freedom’
product placement in movies
the first celebrity endorsement of politicians
focusing not on selling people what they need but on what they desire and speaking to those unconscious desires thus helping to create consumer culture
These are just some of the reasons why I describe him as a ‘godfather’ of modern culture. Those interested can find out a lot more about Edward Bernays, and other influential members of his family by watching Adam Curtis’s fascinating four part BBC documentary, The Century of the Self. You can download and watch this documentary at
While I dislike most of what he stood for (almost all of it) and many of the applications of it, I have to point out on reflection, that without the idea of being able of merchandising culture, most modern ways of communication and entertainment wouldn’t exist including things like Face Book>
My question would be how do we use these techniques to empower people, to help promote taking responsibility for our own decisions and actions and evolution and promote the ideas of love and compassion rather than greed? For a very long time, we’ve had some pretty destructive memes floating around out there. Can we find healthy ones that promote self-actualization and start propagating them? What do you think they would be?
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Mind Field by G A Rosenberg
Sky Dragon by G A Rosenberg
“There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.”
Are these three mutually exclusive, wisdom, honour and gain? I mean the proletariat leaning side of me would love to see lovers of gain be of a different ilk than either lovers of wisdom or lovers of honour? What does it mean to be an honourable man?
“Dr. Mark Powell: How do you know right from wrong?
Prot: Every being in the universe knows right from wrong, Mark. ”
This quote strikes me hard. Hard enough that I’ve started writing this section three times and each time I went back and deleted it. I recall so many times in my life that I absolutely knew the right thing to do and I flat out did the opposite? For the life of me, I don’t know that I could give a good reason why. In at least a few cases, I wanted to see where doing the wrong thing would lead me? At other times, it just seemed to be the easiest choice to make given what the people around me were doing. At no time, did I ever come out of the situation saying “Wow, I’m glad I did that”. Most often the response was more like “Well, I paid the ticket and saw the show” I continued on.
Is that what honour is? Knowing the right thing to do and doing it? If so, does our inner integrity and honour go up as we do what we know is right and diminish when we don’t? Is it that shadow self, that I spoke of yesterday that pulls us back from doing the right thing if it can get an ego payoff by doing the opposite? How do I tame it?
These seem like trite questions yet in my life of late they become more meaningful every day. Blessings, G </h4>
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Elevator by G A Rosenberg