Jeremy Rufkin tells us in this piece that our collective empathic response to the disaster in Haiti has been remarkable. Interestingly, our ability to empathize is greater when such events are caused by nature over those caused by mankind. Rufkin tells us, “the response by people all over the world has been immediate. Governments, NGOs [Non-Government Organizaions], and individuals are mobilizing relief missions, and social websites are lighting up, as the collective human family extends a global empathic embrace to its neighbors in this small Caribbean nation.”
Rufkin continues, “Yet, when faced with similar tragedies that are a result of human-induced behavior, rather than precipitated by natural disasters, we are often unable to muster the same collective empathic response.” Rufkin explains that when human behavior imposes suffering, we tend to shrug our shoulders and say “That’s human nature, you can’t change it.” And thus our response is considerably less as a result. Rufkins asks us to question these assumptions and consider that they may be false. Rufkins reminds us of the discovery of mirror neurons – those that help us with empathy. He reminds us that our empathic abilities have steadily grown over time. He contends, ” the extension of empathy to our species as a whole and to the other creatures that cohabit this planet with us” is an acheivable goal.
I think Rufkin is on to something.
You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one . . .
It’s hard to find a less popular foil for the White House than bailed-out banks, and the administration is doing its best to show off its new plan to make financial firms pay for the unpopular bailout. President Obama talked up the proposal in his radio address Saturday, but also defended the initial bailout. He said that banks faced a “crisis of their own creation,” but that the “distasteful but necessary” bailout prevented an “even greater calamity for the country.” Nonetheless, he said recent news that some banks, such as Goldman Sachs, had paid back their funds was “good news” but still not enough. “We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime,” he said. The proposed 0.15% tax on banks would collect about $90 billion over 10 years and apply to approximately 50 of the country’s largest banks.
Read it here.
National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. This vital document became the basis for the separation of church and state, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
Celebrate your beliefs and your right to hold them!
From the StarTribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul:
Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action.
But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welsher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamor, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”?
If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.
You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.