Monday, September 22, 2014

Empathy is not Compassion: A tangent of political thought

   "What moves us to serve humanity, to achieve meaningful change, is genuine empathy; the capacity to feel the pain of others, to experience an intimate shared humanity, to accept discomfort and sacrifice in the path of a greater cause. In entering an authentic communion with others, we also discover a profound expression of our own dignity.”
    Payam Akhavan, from the 2014 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture, Beyond Human Rights: Building a World on Empathy.
I found his interview on CBC Radio Program Ideas very stimulating. The link is below the video. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject. I have entitled it:

Empathy is not Compassion

Interview with Payam Akhaven
Empathy is a state of perception based on the spiritual communion of life. The interview with the lawyer Payam Akhavan, although I have a generally low opinion of lawyers, gob smacked me into a higher understanding of what confronts humanity. It struck me that without empathy one can’t have true compassion, tolerance, or the ability to compromise. In my opinion these are the best human traits a leader might possess in today’s complex world, especially when they are combined with a larger intellect directly coupled with a diminished Ego. This seems to be an ideal checklist for a benign and beneficial, truly responsive, elected representative in a so called free multifaceted society.
Sadly, we still as a species adhere to the genetically programmed leadership model which served our primitive aggressive primate troop well. We haven’t evolved yet, because our species is currently in the grip of a conservative ideology which has been necessary as a survival mechanism. It probably is a remnant left over from harsh primeval times were aggressive strength in leadership was important to our species survival.
In my opinion this is a reflection, as I said before, of the tendency for accurate transmission of genetic material via replication in cellular reproduction. There is also a natural force which is equally important, but naturally weaker, to mutate, or make slight changes in our genetic material. This I see in the reflection of human political nature.  Those whose main thinking revolves around conserving power, control, accumulating wealth, supporting a strong military and taking aggressive action, don’t want change or any kind of genetic mutations, against the very nature of natural selection. Their goal is to be mired in a stagnant state. (Maybe even to revert to a spiritual state in a “blissful” Armageddon)
Maybe intuitively we, as a self-aware thinking species, understand this and know that the mechanisms of change are freedom of thought, tolerance and compromise, and since genetic mutations are caused only by radiation, heat and ingested chemical compounds. Perhaps we can infer (that the) prohibition to use different substances, also is at its root a barricade to natural change.
It is no mystery to me that Psychedelic substances have been found to help create empathy which can last a lifetime. Certainly there is no evidence that their use is any more dangerous than alcohol which creates violence in its users. These substances, which may be the only natural bridge our species has, are being forbidden in a global spirit of repression by the right warlike primal human conservative drive, a once necessary mechanism to our species survival.
In this year of a Canadian election, I will wonder about all aspects of the human condition and why we find ourselves so poorly served by our leadership. I mean wouldn’t we all want better outcomes / results in our lives instead of more of the same: caused by the same old thinking? I am wondering who amongst the current crop of wannabe Prime Ministers (Canadian) would have the most empathy for humanity? These jokers have all thrown their hats into the old model political leadership ring, where it seems the most vicious, financially well-endowed, the most beholden to corporate power interests’ campaigners will entertain us with rude conflict of bullshit in epic proportions.
Isn’t that why they seem so totally interchangeable in their attitude and behavior? They are the same contenders for our primate troop loyalty we have always had and will fight hard to eliminate one another. We enjoy the spectacle, just as we always have. No wonder the solutions to our problems evade us and there is ever more strife in the world. We pick our leaders for their confrontational qualities to perpetuate our political ideologies, to entertain us, not to find solutions to human social problems.
Empathy is a human state of being which can be a basis for pre emptive action in everyone’s lives that seeks solutions through compromise, not conflict.

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