Sunday, November 2, 2008

Empathy and Intellect

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
-Kahlil Gibran

“When a good man is hurt all who would be called good must suffer with him.”
-Euripides

“The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real state, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.”
-Bertrand Russell

“If you cannot feel the pain of a stranger, it cannot be said that you truly love anyone but yourself.”
-St. Brian the Godless

Empathy and Intellect

I doubt that anybody can deny that many of the worst people in our history were intelligent. Hitler may have been stark raving mad, but his intellect was not in question. In fact, in order to be truly evil on a global scale, it may even be said that one must be very intelligent indeed, for evil on such a large scale requires careful planning.

When I was a child I revered intellect like most Christians revere Jesus. I thought it automatic evidence of goodness, indeed as inherently good in and of itself. I was sadly mistaken, as I learned later on in life. Many of the smartest people around are the worst examples of humanity out there. They dedicate their intellects to the pursuit of their selfish and egotistical ends rather than to accomplishing good in the world. To me this seemed a conundrum when I first encountered it. Why, when you have intellect, would you ever devote it to selfish ends? To me, it seemed illogical.

I didn’t realize at the time that there are two components to the balanced person, two factors which must be in an equilibrium of sorts within the personality in order for the person to truly be a good and decent human being while retaining effectiveness in the world.

Empathy and Intellect.

The ancient Chinese depicted this by the familiar but not well understood Yin-Yang symbol of blended opposites, and even ancient Jews had the concept of Chochma and Binah, kabalistic symbols of the eternal balance between male and female, or positive and negative. The balance between the emotional mind versus the rational mind. Intuition and empathy versus intellect and logic. Lateral thinking versus linear thinking. And even Liberal versus Conservative. Two poles or extremes, either of which by itself inadequate and harmful, but when balanced properly, the optimal most effective path in the world, both spiritually and materially.

We seem to have a good idea what knowledge and intellect is, and what an intelligent person is, but not so many of us understand empathy in equally clear terms. Very few of us give it the importance that it deserves in our minds, for it is the very seat of all human goodness. Without empathy, intellect automatically turns to evil ends, for without empathy logical reasons can be found to justify most any selfish action, even very heinous ones. Without empathy, there is no guilt. And without empathy, there can be no love.

What is empathy?

If a person sees a child suffering, they tend to feel compassion for it. This is a rather basic example of empathy, and most of us do possess it at this level. If a person sees another person carrying a heavy load, they might be inclined to help them with it. This is also a simplistic example of empathy at its most basic level. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Now it may be said that to be Pro-Life is a form of empathy, since you’re hopefully empathizing with the unborn life. But when you talk to some of the people that declare themselves Pro-Life, they often reveal that they are only so due to ideological reasons, and not due to actual real empathy on their parts, since they feel nothing for the poor and starving already-born children in our society, falling through the cracks, receiving inadequate medical care and education, often turning to a life of crime and drugs, and dying violently at a young age. These same “Pro-Life” people are also often Pro-War, which is actually anti-empathy, the very opposite of it. And the Pro-Life movement is noticeably unconcerned with the health of the mother, and her choices in her life, and she’s a person too. So they feel selective empathy, if any at all. Perhaps they do feel something for the “babies’” lives that are lost, but let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to feel empathy for an imaginary helpless baby than it is for an autonomous adult, albeit no more important in the scheme of things. They care about the unborn babies, but once they’re born they tend to forget all about them. This is not empathy at all. It’s self-serving at best. It isn’t based in love of others, but in love of self. And of course, also based in love of their particular religious dogma, which is basically the same thing.

Real empathy is elusive. It’s not something easily defined. I think it is perhaps easier to get a handle on if you simply think of it as love. Not romantic love and not love of family or a pet, but simply love for all others, based in the idea of universal brotherhood. Love for others based on nothing more than the knowledge that the other person is a person too, just another version of ourselves, trying their best to make their way in the world like we are, and as such deserving of our love, as we are of theirs. And it’s a type of love that allows us to feel their pain and to celebrate their happiness, as if they were a member of our family. In its ideal form, this type of love can and should extend not only to all other people, but to all other life.

To truly love thy neighbor must mean to learn to see life through their eyes, to learn to use your imagination to picture how they see life, in order to relate to them. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to temporarily give up your own presuppositions and prejudices and to instead imagine having those (if any) of the other person. You must imagine being them, literally, in order to truly empathize with them, in order to love them. It’s an acquired skill.

The ancient Jews used to say to be careful how you treat a stranger, because the stranger may be an angel in disguise. This begins to get at the idea of empathy. If we treated everyone as if they were an angel sent here to test our love for others, we would at least develop the behavior patterns that lead to real empathy.

Now what if you happen to be a fundamentalist Christian and are confronted with an atheist? You are commanded to love them, but how can you love an atheist? After all, they’re against everything that you’ve been taught is good and pure.

Well, the interesting thing is, real love, real empathy, transcends Christian dogma. It has to. All Christians have been commanded by Christ Himself to love their neighbors, to thus love all others, and here such a command is in apparent conflict with the rest of their faith. However it is a direct, specific command from Jesus Christ, so it must be of some great importance, and as such must take precedence over the rest of the Christian dogma when such conflicts arise. So the Christian cannot condemn the atheist nor attempt to convert him or her to their faith, in spite of how much they may wish to. This would not be love. This would not be empathy. This would be selfishness and egotism, since it is incredibly egotistical to think that you are fit to judge others. Jesus specifically warned against this, lest we forget. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Empathy is an aspect of the emotional or intuitive mind. This is in opposition to the rational, logical mind. Balance between the two is the key to personal growth. When you learn to see things as others see them, you eventually learn to see how they see you. And once you can see how others see you, and learn to average out the impressions that others seem to have of you, you then possess one of the most important keys to your own personality that you can ever have: An unbiased view of yourself. Once you have that and internalize it, you naturally start to change into being more of the person that you want to be, instead of merely being what you started out as. You start to evolve.

Empathy in a world leader is of paramount importance, and yet is one of the rarer qualities exemplified in such leaders. Too much intellect without enough empathy to balance it makes the tyrant; the opposite makes the ineffectual dupe. There must be balance.

You see, the problem is that empathy isn’t the most attractive trait in a candidate. In our society it’s usually confused with wimpiness, and nobody wants a wimpy leader. This is because of the fact that empathy in its most extreme form, unchecked by intellect, is indeed wimpiness, just as intellect in its most extreme form, unchecked by empathy, is utter tyranny. The voters aren’t perceptive enough to realize that a certain amount of empathy is absolutely crucial in order to insure that the leader’s intellect isn’t easily turned to selfish ends, and thus they throw out the baby with the bathwater. They see black and vote white, never thinking that the optimal choice is a balance of the two.

Too often we humans, when confronted by a choice, see something that we don’t like in one option and reflexively choose the other without sufficient reflection on all factors involved. We get into a lot of trouble that way.

On the surface McCain looks pretty good. War hero, experienced, a “maverick…”
On the surface Obama seems a bit wimpy by comparison. But as you delve beneath the surface it is clear that the more balanced individual by far is Obama. To McCain, everything is a war, everything is a fight. It’s all he knows. Such a personality cannot empathize with anybody but a soldier perhaps. They certainly cannot learn to feel the pain of the middle class, and the poor. And thus, they will never do anything to alleviate their suffering. Obama has sufficient empathy to balance his stellar intellect, and that’s a lot of empathy. He’s non-confrontational, but can confront when he needs to, and very effectively. He’s not a Jimmy Carter, who was after all a brilliant man, but lacked enough rational side to balance his emotional side. Obama has the right mix. McCain is a study in one-sidedness. He’s incredibly imbalanced, with no discernable empathy whatsoever. He even looks stiff when he hugs his wife. And his temper is legendary. McCain is self-focused. Obama is other-focused. McCain went to war in Vietnam, and when he got back he went into the senate, parlaying his POW experience into enough pity to get him elected. Obama had the world at his feet when he graduated Harvard Law, and chose public service at the community level instead of self-aggrandizement. He chose a noble profession, and excelled at it. His whole campaign is other-focused. That’s why his appeal is so incredibly broad.

We face a choice this Tuesday. Let’s hope that we have the sense as a country to finally choose a person with some balance, rather than reflexively choosing an imbalanced one-sided man with the potential to harm this country at so many levels, just because we think our president should act like John Wayne rather than John Kennedy.

589 comments:

  1. Although I agree with almost everything you have posted here, I was somewhat disappointed when you segued from what I think was a profound statement of what can make a "complete" human being, into a plea for either candidate. Mind you, I could never vote for McCain/Palin for Oh So Many reasons, including the ones you stated, but if people have not already learned to decide for whom to vote on all of the political issues, "ad hominem" arguments shouldn't have to be the decider. You, I, and several other regular posters on DD's blog and, lately yours and others, have frequently objected when Dinesh or other far-righters and fundamentalists have resorted to this ad Hominem argument (albeit their posts are frequently both nasty and untrue, which yours is not). Please understand, I think your post, in general, is right on and very well stated. I simply feel that you have 'slipped' into a type of argument that may not be what you intended.

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  2. I see the point you're making, Harvey, but actually agree with Brian's conclusion. And I think that this election and who people are choosing for the qualities they possess is very relevant to the topic discussed. By the standards of empathy presented in the blog, it is just illustrative to tie it into the world changing event of this election. It's important, and should be an issue, now more than ever. The empathy factor in the candidates has been a huge issue to me personally in judging the merits of all the candidates, even back to the primaries when I was weighing Democratic nominees against each other.
    On a personal note, I think I have a long way to go to be "evolved". I am extremely empathetic ........ unless I deem someone not worthy of it. (I laughed at Sarah Palin's discomfort and embarrassment at being pranked, normally I hate pranks for being mean spirited.) Does everyone deserve it? I will have a very hard time, and be a complete failure I assure you, if I am called upon to be empathetic to Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Hitler, GWB, Sarah Palin, Billo,
    Cheney, Rove....ETC. I then have to question whether my own opinion of myself as empathetic is hypocritical if not universally applied. Now what? LOL

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  3. Harvey, I was going to answer you but Jude said exactly what I would have said.

    This empathy thing is more important now than ever. It's critical in our next leader. I thought it appropriate to use them (the candidates) as illustrative of what I'm talking about, since there is such a contrast between them in this area.

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  4. And it's not as if I liked Obama and then fabricated the idea that he's the more empathetic of the two. I picked him long ago, for that very reason among several others. It was what drew me to him in the first place.

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  5. And Jude, I think if we were all so empathetic that we didn't laugh when someone like Sarah Palin screws up, someone so obviously on the side of ignorance and ideology over intelligence and empathy herself, then we'd all qualify for being too empathetic to be functional and not having enough critical thinking ability ourselves to regulate said empathy. It would be an IM-balance, in other words.

    The thought comes in and regulates the empathy for each occassion, and is itself regulated by the empathy until balance between the two is acheived, and for this occassion I 'think' it's not necessary to be so empathetic that you don't enjoy her so-deserved comeuppance. I don't wish her ill, but I can wish her to learn her lesson, since it's so obvious that she has never learned it. And in that way, I am expressing love for her, in that I wish her self-improvement, which of course comes at a price.

    No pain, no gain.

    When you wish an ignorant person to learn the truth about themselves, it's both a good and valid wish for you to have, and also something that, should it ever happen, would cause the person intense pain, in that they would have to see that they were wrong, and to people like that there's little else in the world that is as distressing as finding out that you were wrong.

    So I wish Sarah Palin the intense pain of self-discovery, thereby liberating her from her ignorance. It's a good thing, trust me.

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  6. Which raises another question though, Brian. If you have shown yourself to be devoid of empathetic charactaristics.... do you have the capacity to suffer the pain of great self discovery?
    Of some of the examples of people I would have trouble showing empathy to, many have faced their own hypocrisy and instead of self discovery, they go into double think, absolving themselves of being "one of them" or continuing to behave as if the rules do not apply to them. Cheney is a heartless gay basher, denier of rights and respect, and yet he rationalizes his own gay daughter. Professing his love for her, but throwing her under the bus at the same time. Not giving compassion to other gays and their families. Billo being a "moral family values guy" and his falafel fiasco...not shamefaced, still pretending that he's above the immorality of others. Rush Limbaugh and his drug rants on his radio show...criminals not an illness, lock them up and throw away the key. None of this mollycoddling rehab stuff. Again, the lesson totally lost on him. We can only hope that these Karmic knuckle whacks sink in slowly. I'm sure there are instances where it does work. Maybe only on those that are not COMPLETELY wormy on the inside. Other Republican karmic whacks I have enjoyed include the wide stance escapades, the texting to teenage pages follies, and the prostitute lollapalooza. LOL! I admit to not being as harsh with Democratic falls from grace...they tend not to be the one's screaming for marriage amendments and restrictions of gay rights, etc. Not that I give them a pass for bad behavior, they just don't get the additional hypocrite whack.
    Your point was well taken. To be 100% empathetic regardless of circumstances would be paralyzing. I would not go so far as to say that laughing at SP was my way of showing my love for her. :-) I'll work on it. LOL

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  7. Good points Jude.

    Someone like a Cheney. Or Sarah Palin, probably as well. Hmm...

    I would say that they are most likely not capable of such self-discovery. They'd need a "Powder Moment." (In the film Powder, the psychic of the same name saw another (redneck type) man shoot a deer, and placed the hand of the man on the dying deer and MADE the man see what the deer was seeing, feel what it was feeling. The man threw away his gun and never hunted again)

    So it would be highly unlikely that they'd have the necessary introspective ability (or desire) to ever see themselves naked like that. Of course, the amount of pain is commensurate with how far you are gone in your own world when you see the real one, so in their cases if they ever DID see the light, the discomfort would be particularly intense, I think. That amount of self-knowledge might well incapacitate them, hence they will avoid it all the more by instinct.

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  8. And when I say "they will avoid it all the more by instinct" I mean what you said, that they would go into denial and absolve themselves of guilt rather than face the truth of what they are.

    It's all they know. It's how they live with themselves. Denial. Lucky thing they've developed their EGOS so much that it's not a problem, huh?

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  9. Just think. If everyone laughed at Sarah Palin, she'd have realized how misguided she was long ago.

    So it is love, in a way. As long as you don't let yourself descend from honest (and appropriate)derision at the person's ignorance to hatred. It's admittedly a slippery slope, so caution is necessary.

    Hatred always poisons the hater as much as it does the hate-ee, and usually more so. So it's bad, is the gist...

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  10. And when I say "laugh at their ignorance" I mean when it descends into hypocrisy or superciliousness. I never laugh at the ignorant unless they indicate that they feel that they're far superior to everyone else, or unless they are obvious hypocrites.

    Of course, one of the hallmarks of true ignorance is that the person always believes that they're not ignorant, so it becomes hard not to laugh when said person makes a fool out of themselves...

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  11. I think it's worth pointing out at this juncture that Hate is not the opposite of Love; indifference is the opposite. If one were to plot these emotions on a clock face, Love might be at 12:01, Hate at
    11:59 and indifference at 6:00. If one looks at it this way, empathy is the willingness to care enough to not be indifferent; ergo, empathy is necessary to both love and hate. If one lacks all empathy (i.e. understanding of or appreciation for a situation), one is merely indifferent.
    If one is indifferent to one's fellow man, there can be no "friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.” (Bertrand Russel) I suppose you could say that empathy is, or at least requires not being indifferent.

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  12. I suppose one could substitute or add "caring" to the term empathy. One certainly can perceive that the current republican ticket (and the last two administrations) lack empathy for or, more likely, don't care about most of the common folks in this country. We can hope that Obama can make good on his promise to care about us and our well-being.

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  13. ergo, empathy is necessary to both love and hate.
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    I definitely don't see it this way. No empathy, as in relating to other people, is necessary in order to hate them. Many Christians hate atheists for example, and they famously cannot begin to empathize with them in the least, even in the sense of just having basic knowledge of their ways.

    In fact, it's easier to hate that with with you are unfamiliar. And easier to not feel bad about it afterwards.

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  14. If hate is not the opposite of love, and instead it is the opposite of indifference, then love also must be the opposite of indifference. And since love and hate aren't the same thing, they must be polar opposites that BOTH are the opposite of indifference, this only being possible due to the flexibility inherent in the definition of "indifference." Defined as an absence of strong feeling, it can encompass both love and hatred.

    I do see love and hate as two sides of the same coin if you will, but definitely OPPOSITE sides of that coin.

    Interestingly enough, true hatred is always based in ignorance, just as true love is always based in understanding. Or so I think...

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  15. We can hope that Obama can make good on his promise to care about us and our well-being.
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    Yes. Agreed. There's never any way to be sure, you know. No matter who gets elected, it's always just our hope that he or she will be what we want them to be. I cannot dismiss the possibility that Obama's all talk and no walk, but looking at the odds, McCain is by far the worse bet. By far. So you go with the best odds.

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  16. "No empathy, as in relating to other people, is necessary in order to hate them."

    i agree with you on this, brian. in order to empathize with someone, you must be willing to understand them. hate does involve a certain level of emotional involvement, as opposed to apathy or indifference, which is devoid of emotion.

    however, hate typically involves a person NOT wanting to understand another person. hate is the conscious effort to deny feelings of empathy and understanding and disassociate oneself with the target of that hate.

    hate is almost like the drawn-out form of schadenfreude. everyone experiences schadenfreude fleetingly at certain times in their life, but it never exists alongside empathy.

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  17. Bryan:
    If one is totally indifferent to another,(6:00pm) one neither loves nor hates him. Both love(12:01) and hate (11:59) are the strongest of emotions. It takes a lot of energy to do either.
    Thus, the analogy to a clock face. I think that the difference between love and hate then boils down to intellect; if you understand someone's motives and you care about their presence or activities that impact your world, you may be moved to either love or hate appropriately. If you don't care, neither extreme emotion is likely to result.

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  18. Thus, the analogy to a clock face. I think that the difference between love and hate then boils down to intellect; if you understand someone's motives and you care about their presence or activities that impact your world, you may be moved to either love or hate appropriately. If you don't care, neither extreme emotion is likely to result.
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    This sounds good, and it sounds logical, but in practice hatred is almost never coupled with understanding.

    Hitler hated the Jews. Are you suggesting that he had empathy with them first?

    The Jews could be said to hate Hitler, but only after he hated them first. Their hatred was based in knowing, but the seed that started the cycle was Hitler, whose hatred was entirely based in ignorance and who had absolutely zero empathy with the Jews. You can't say that he knew the Jews and thus hated them out of some sense of the word "empathy" because his "knowledge" of the Jews was incorrect and entirely based in racial bias and abysmal ignorance. In fact, he couldn't have proposed his "final solution" if he had even a shred of empathy for the Jews, in any sense of the word. Just my opinion.

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  19. Onc cold say that hatred is an aspect of indifference, extended to extremes. Again though, this places hatred opposite love on your "clock face" there.

    Hatred requires ZERO emotional involvement with the person being hated. In fact, it's easier when there isn't. Zero understanding, especially on an emotional, empathy level, is one of the very keys to hatred.

    When whites typically hated blacks, back in the day of slavery, did their hatred proceed from some real knowledge of black people? Or were they under the misapprehension that they were entirely inferior and thus worthy of such hatred? Can it truly be said that the plantation slavemaster complete with bullwhip had empathy for those he punished with it? I seriously doubt it.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding how you mean "empathy." It certainly seems that you're using it in a different way from that which I employed in my post. I might just be not getting how you mean it.

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  20. harvey,

    i understand the point you are trying to make, but do you think maybe apathy should not exist on the clock with hate and love? like love and hate have their own clock and apathy and emotion have a separate clock.

    love and hate are opposed to one another, but they are BOTH opposed to apathy because BOTH deal with strong emotion.

    to further illustrate my point i'll use the example of morality. you would not say that the opposite of a moral act is an amoral act, but an immoral act. if an act is amoral then it is not moral or immoral.

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  21. love and hate are opposed to one another, but they are BOTH opposed to apathy because BOTH deal with strong emotion.
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    This is precisely how I see it.

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  22. Perhaps the confusion stems from the fact that both hatred and love involve strong emotions, and indifference of course involves none.

    However while it can be said that in THAT SENSE ALONE both hatred and love are opposites to indifference, when you consider the KIND of emotions involved, hatred and love reveal themsleves to be opposites to each other. This is because the emotions of love are all life-affirming and generally are related to the realities of the situation of the person that is loved, and hatred is all just raw emotion without knowledge at all of anything real, usually coupled with false knowledge or misinformation leading to the bias. Hatred, or at least the beginnings of it, is invariably based in illusion and not in real knowledge. Again, with the Hitler analogy, the Jews no doubt hated Hitler and were justified in doing so, since he hated them first (with no real reason) and showed it very eloquently. But again, Hitler's initial hatred of the Jews, the seed that started the cycle, was not based in reality at all. So the cycle started because of an ignorant misapprehension on Hitler's part, no doubt due to his startling lack of empathy for others.

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  23. Of course Hitler had no empathy for the Jews, but he certainly "cared" about them. If he had been indifferent (didn't care), he would not have invested so much energy in trying to exterminate them. Perhaps the difficulty here is in the multiple meanings of the word "care". I certainly don't mean it in the sense of likng (caring for) or taking care of someone. Rather, in this sense, it means paying attention to or noticing. In order to hate someone, you must be aware of them, of their activities and must have some understanding (or at least a belief that you do) of their motives with regard to you or your world. Hitler certainly "cared" about the Jews in this regard. That his reasons for hatred were false, perverse, or just a convenient tool to divert (or attract) people's attention from his evil plans for Germany and the World may be correct, but he certainly wasn't indifferent. One could argue that what fueled his hatred was, in fact, his intellect, albeit in evil ways.

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  24. Brian;
    I did not see your last post before posting mine. It seems we both agree that intellect may play a big part ininitiating either love or hatred.

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  25. I heard somewhere that hate is unacknowledged anger.


    We need to have both love and hate in our lives. We need joy and pain. We need one to truly understand the other.

    However, I reject the notion that good can only come from empathetic means. Even if one does good for selfish motives, one still does good. Many a person in this world started out trying to do good and ended up causing much suffering.

    The emotional cup must be filled and drained so that we can taste all that life has to offer.

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  26. You, I, and several other regular posters on DD's blog and, lately yours and others, have frequently objected when Dinesh or other far-righters and fundamentalists have resorted to this ad Hominem argument (albeit their posts are frequently both nasty and untrue, which yours is not). -Harvey (First post)
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    This part: "...albeit their posts are frequently both nasty and untrue, which yours is not..." is what makes all the difference. When something or someone is wrong, there's no dishonor in saying so, PROVIDED that you can support your side well enough. If they are very wrong, saying so might indeed sound like an "ad hominem." But to any thinking, caring empathetic individual, Dinesh D'Souza was an easily seen-through ruse indeed. Easy to pick sides where he's concerned, if you have a pair of working eyes and a brain connected to them somehow. Like me taking the side of the dogs in the Michael Vick case. It is that apparent which side is in the right. Dinesh was an easily spotted empty suit, a mouthpiece of the right wing, a hopeful to it's inner circle who is destined to frustration in that regard. Honestly, I see him as pitiable and pathetic. An "untouchable" that aspires to the caste of "brahman" and came here to try to realize that aspiration, since it was impossible in his native India. He's just another bloated ego trying to convince people that he isn't, as is typical for such bloated egos.

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  27. However, I reject the notion that good can only come from empathetic means. Even if one does good for selfish motives, one still does good.
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    True, but accidentally doing good does not make you a good person. The person that accidentally does good due to selfish motives is the same person that does evil the next time because his motives haven't improved.

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  28. Brian:
    An interesting discussion on many levels, but I will have to check in on it tomorrow. It is good to see your blog picking up steam, but it needs some more attention from the other side. Perhaps the word will get out to a few of the more open minded who are willing to take part in these dialogues.

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  29. We need to have both love and hate in our lives.
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    I disagree. We need both love and not-love in our lives. Not-love is not identical to hatred. Not-love is sufficient to show contrast so that we appreciate it when we have love. Hatred is an extreme that is never necessary, but all have felt it at some time in their lives. In my mind, it's something to outgrow, a childish thing that needs to be put aside as we come into our maturity.

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  30. It is good to see your blog picking up steam, but it needs some more attention from the other side. Perhaps the word will get out to a few of the more open minded who are willing to take part in these dialogues.
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    Well then, help me out, bro! Know any open-minded Christians? I know two, Botts and Oneblood, and the first has his own blog to think of and the second already posts here... It's harder to spam than I thought that it would be. I've been kicked off of the MSNBC discussion boards... How do I get more of the other side to visit?

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  31. Of course, Eric posts here from time to time, but while he defends the Catholic viewpoint, it's hard to tell if he really buys into it himself or if he is just arguing it for practice in defending the indefensible...

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  32. Oh, and I forgot to mention Observant, who is kind enough to visit periodically, something that I much appreciate...

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  33. Just a slight tangent (not sure if this was already gone into or not), but it was my impression that "empathy" is merely the ability to know what another person is feeling. Sure, this is an important aspect to love, but I think that using that term is a bit misleading: emotional understanding is the key. And, it is due that that I actually think that empathy is an effective, rational tool. It is a method by which we can better determine the motives and conditions of the people around us, and take our own actions accordingly. If we were to be without the ability to know how other people feel, we would be effectively damned to "social blindness", which could manifest as anything from abject inability to interact with other humans on anything beyond a superficial level or enter into the realm of clear-cut sociopathy. By being able to tell the best ways to stay on people's good sides, we are pressed to do good and refrain bad for purely selfish reasons (namely, avoiding the ramifications brought about by pissing one or more people off when you largely depend on other people holding you in good favor for safety).

    Which brings me for a brief mention of hatred. I feel that there are three different flavors that taste rather similar: antipathy, loathing, and malice. I chose the words arbitrarily, just go with it.
    Antipathy is just plain old dislike, at a gut level. It is not passionate, it just an instinctual aversion that comes from being unfamiliar with something. There is usually a limited amount of empathy for the person involved, but also drive to outright cause them harm.
    Loathing, by contrast, is a more passionate, personal hatred directed at a person or group that you feel strongly about. This loathing tends to disturbingly coincide with love. It is close, frustrated, muddled kind of relationship.
    And, then there is malice. It is when the passion of loathing meets the emotinonal disconnect of antipathy. It is what we fear to possess ourselves, more so than other brands of hatred, and where empathy tries to prevent us from treading. But, it happens. Often due entirely to "intellectual" justifications of antipathy along with an obsession with the person or group you dislike. It is a sad testament to our own nature.

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  34. Of course Hitler had no empathy for the Jews, but he certainly "cared" about them. If he had been indifferent (didn't care), he would not have invested so much energy in trying to exterminate them.
    -----------------------
    Aha. "Care" is the problem here. I do not see "caring" in the sense that you employ it to in any way equate with how I mean "empathizing." To my mind, such "caring" as Hitler did for the Jews was simply the end result of his intense hatred for them, identical to it in fact. He hated them, so of course he "cared" about them in the sense that a homeowner "cares" about it when termites erupt from a corner of his house and fly all over the place. It involved no "identification" with the Jews, no "seeing things through their eyes" and certainly was not based in love in any way. It was focused attention, which should not be confused with caring or empathy.

    When I was a child I killed a water snake about six feet long. (Poor Natrix Sipedon!)

    I "knew" at that point in my life that all snakes were evil and bad, so I felt no guilt as I beat it to death with a stick and then stabbed it with a knife.

    I had no knowledge of it as a living thing, its ways, whether it was beneficial or dangerous. No empathy with it. How could I? I knew nothing about it other than what older people said about snakes in general. That they were evil, and killed people.

    (I was like ten at the most)

    So clearly I had no "empathy" for the snake, and I also didn't "care" about it in the least, since I "knew" it to be evil. (I knew nothing, but I believed it to be evil, and was much mistaken)

    But I certainly was focused on killing it. That was a lot of fun. Only years later did I feel the guilt that should have prevented me from doing it in the first place. NOW I care. NOW I feel the empathy. But then? Not so much. I just enjoyed killing the evil snake, as I darn well should have, "knowing" as I did how evil it was and all... And it felt so good to have the power to snuff out a life like that. So much the better when you "know" that it is "evil."

    No doubt this is how Fundamentalists feel about me. Kneejerk revulsion with no thought. Conditioned response. Primitive emotion overruling any possible empathy, making it irrelevant. Evil. Must. Destroy.

    Hey, I feel their pain too. Such is the curse of empathy. But I also can see that it's all due to an illusion...

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  35. Just a slight tangent (not sure if this was already gone into or not), but it was my impression that "empathy" is merely the ability to know what another person is feeling.
    ------------------

    If you can know how another person is feeling, you can know almost everything important about them.

    Including how they think, basically. Note that I do not say *what* they think, but *how* they think, which is just as revealing. Their emotions and reactions reveal all, once you're used to interpreting the data.

    ---------------------------------

    Another random thought on empathy and love:

    I do not know a starving infant in Africa (pick one) but I can empathize with it as another life, too young to understand, confused, hungry, not knowing why it has no food,weakening slowly, feeling death approach with no comprehension... It makes no difference how far away it is from me geographically or how distant in my imagination, once I can identify with it like that and know it's plight as if it were my own, then love is almost automatic. I could have been that baby. I relate. It is but another version of me that wasn't so lucky.

    So I see empathy as an aspect of love. A necessary precursor to it. If I cannot empathize with someone else, how can I love them? I might think I'm loving them, but I don't really KNOW them, so what am I in love with but a projection of what I wish to believe that they are?

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  36. "Just a slight tangent (not sure if this was already gone into or not), but it was my impression that "empathy" is merely the ability to know what another person is feeling."


    empathy is the ability to understand what another person is feeling. this may seem like semantics, but there is a difference between knowing what a person is feeling and understanding what another person is feeling.

    i think of it like this:

    to know is intuition, to understand is empathy.

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  37. I love how this blog forces one into deeper and deeper thinking, coming up with more questions all the time, rather than having a pat answer. I too have always seen indifference as the opposite of love, but never took the next logical step that it is also the opposite of hate. I agree with that.
    But here's another... Brian said "interestingly enough, hatred is always based in ignorance, just as true love is always based in understanding. Or so I think..."
    What if you TOTALLY understand where a person is coming from, like Hitler for instance, and you hate him and his ideology with a passion? Shouldn't you? Aren't some people and acts deserving of our hatred? Is hating ALWAYS a black mark upon our "souls" and an indication of ignorance or a character flaw on the haters part? Maybe we just cringe at the word hatred and it's connotations, where we might be comfortable with "not condoning" or some other semantic wording of our displeasure and disapproval. I'm throwing it out there that hatred through ignorance is abhorrant, but hatred through true understanding of evils (not in the biblical sense) is justified. If anyone turns it into a mathmatical equation though, I'm out. LOL

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  38. "It makes no difference how far away it is from me geographically or how distant in my imagination, once I can identify with it like that and know it's plight as if it were my own, then love is almost automatic."

    This is my problem: I do not have anything that I would call "love", for any significant meaning of the word, from just understanding another person's thoughts, feelings, and social plights. Pity, sympathy, appreciation, respect, all of these things arise, but nothing so deep and passionate as to be called "love", since I think that it takes more than being able to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes to have that significant of an emotional connection to them. Perhaps it is because the empathy I imagine is shallow, based upon casual impressions, rather than one that develops over a long period of interaction which, I do agree, would probably inevitably lead into love. But, it requires not mere empathy, but a lot of exposure to the person you empathize with. A personal connection and familiarity. The empathy that is relevant to us behaving like decent human beings doesn't seem to have as much to do with those deep loving and understanding relationships that are held for a handful of familiar faces, as much as our ability to glean a brief understanding of people who are nowhere near as involved with, and treat them with kindness due to this brief glimpse into their inner mind. And, that becomes part of the problem, when we have empathy towards neighbors vs. empathy towards strangers behaving in distinct fashions, allowing for otherwise kind and affectionate people to be callous xenophobes, while allowing the friendly, tolerant and hospitable to be incapable of the deep, loving attachments that most others have.

    Sigh...I need to stop babbling....

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  39. "What if you TOTALLY understand where a person is coming from, like Hitler for instance, and you hate him and his ideology with a passion?"

    Yes...a conundrum. The thing is, however, the only thing wrong with Hitler's ideology that makes it worthy of hate is that it is, itself, hateful. And, the only thing that we understand about Hitler is in context of what he did, his intellectual rationalizations, not his inner thoughts or feelings, or the circumstances which brought him to believe and act in the manner that he did. We ourselves are unable to put ourselves in Hitler's shoes without merely focusing on the results of actions and the hatred that he displayed, so that we are barred from fully understanding who he is by instead focusing on what he became. The failed artist, the disaffected soldier, these were lost to us and intentionally buried on Hitler's part under the comfortable facade of brutal tyrant, genocidal demagogue, and nationalistic warmonger.

    Yet, I think that we are still justified in hating him, and probably still would despise him even given complete understanding of his life, due entirely to his own levels of unjustified hatred, and the terrible results of that hatred. So, this brings up an interesting idea: that is okay to lack empathy towards those who lack empathy for others. Tit for tat. I am not sure that I am comfortable with the idea, but it does seem to be a good description of how we behave. Hell, it's pretty much the basis of the justice system.

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  40. "Loathing, by contrast, is a more passionate, personal hatred directed at a person or group that you feel strongly about. This loathing tends to disturbingly coincide with love. It is close, frustrated, muddled kind of relationship."
    I like this gradation of 'hatred". I suppose that my clock face analogy might allow for antipathy to be at, say, 11:50, loathing at 11:55, and malice at 11:59. That would put pure, intense love at 12:01, with positive, but less intense and complete love at various places down to 12:15. Various degrees of indifferencs would then fit in on the rest of the clock, with complete indifference at 6:00. If one sees total hatred and complete love as direct opposites (two sides of a coin), where do you put the many gradations of positive and negative feelings, upon which we make moral and real life decisions every day? Given that "love" in the Biblical and moral sense has nothing to do with sexual attraction, if we don't recognize these gradations we may never realize the difference between reasonably "good" behavior and the complete "love" that Christians alledgedly seek (and, as you seem to be seeking, Brian, in a non-religious or ethical sense).

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  41. There's different kinds of love. Think: Agape.

    I'm truly enjoying this converstion and it's permutations. I'm here to learn, too. You all have valid points.

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  42. Brian:
    One of the best things about your Blog (as compared to DD's )is that the original poster takes part in and responds to the others who choose to take part with him.

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  43. I look at the Hitler thing this way, while acknowledging the points made here:

    The cycle of hatred started with Hitler. The Jews who were persecuted were justified in hating Hitler due to his actions toward them. So I guess I see that in certain situations, hatred is justifiable, but never healthy. However hatred is never the optimal state of mind, even in response to previous hatred that is unjustified. It is perhaps better to say that it is "understandable" then, than saying it is justified.

    Hatred not the optimal response? Lemme' 'splain...

    For instance, is it more noble and more effective to defend your life and the life of your family against a marauding pack of "barbarian invaders" while hating the invaders with insensate passion, or to still do so just as vigorously while not hating them due to your level of understanding of others, but understanding nonetheless that you need to kill as many of them as possible in order for you and your family to survive? The lack of hatred toward the "invaders" will allow you to think more clearly and to understand them better, perhaps. It may be said that your chances of winning would be enhanced if you could avoid the hate response (but NOT the self-preservation response!) and remain clear-headed, plan your defense or attack creatively and coldly, and not hot-headedly just run toward them screaming your head off and brandishing an axe...

    These are gray areas, I sense...

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  44. Thank you Harvey. I couldn't see NOT particiating, it's so interesting. I don't know how Dinesh resisted.

    (bet he didn't)

    (as in, fake name)

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  45. Harvey, tell your friends. We need more voices here...

    The more input, the more interesting, after all. So it's in everybody's interest to proseletyze.

    :-) I'm quite shameless, apparently.

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  46. Oh, and when I said the hatred is never healthy, I also meant things like, say, er... I guess an hypothetcal is in order.

    Let's say you are an elderly Jew that was in Dachau. You've seen Hell opened wide, and barely made it out.

    Let's say that, "justifiably" you hated the Nazis with white-hot intensity. Understandable.

    But, as usual, hatred is a poison, even the justifiable variety.

    So now you live in Florida, retired, and you have German neighbors. A nice somewhat younger couple from Pennsylvania that never once in their lives hated a Jew.

    You get where I'm heading here.

    Can you put your hatred for the Nazis that has transferred itself now to hatred for all things German, aside?

    Probably not easily.

    So perhaps some hatred may be justifiable, but one must know when to put it down, when to let go of it. It's that toxic.

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  47. So the hatred can be justified in some instances, but can never become a "generalized hatred", it should/can only be directed at the actual perpetrator of atrocities. Otherwise it is unhealthy, destructive and diminishing of your own life.... is that a sound conclusion?
    Next blog, Brian, maybe you should address Internet Addiction. LOL Everytime I pop on line here for a minute, I have to check and see what everyone is saying and thinking. Totally fascinating, love all the input from EVERYONE. Was it Asylum who said he/she needed to quit babbling? (No, don't!) but I'm feeling the same way. :-)

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  48. Please don't misunderstand me, but if the Germans had won WWII, we might all be praising Hitler as a demi-god. History is written by the winners, after all.
    It's all a matter of perspective.

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  49. Notice that I said "might". It would take a long time for the wounds of that conflict to heal.

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  50. a)There's total lack of consideration for others.

    Bum-fights, bum-bashing and such.

    b) Deliberate lack of consideration for others, demonization, trivialization and such, which can turn into a justification for 'a'.

    C)Pretend consideration of others. Pro-life and such, who feel justified in treating opponents to 'b' which can lead to 'a'.

    Pretend consideration of others is heinous.

    Conservative politicians are masters of this tactic.

    They know that the poor are needy.

    They use that to high-light their position on welfare. "The poor aren't getting enough money to support themselves on welfare! Therefore we need to fix welfare!"

    The heinous hidden agenda is that the candidate believes that completely eliminating welfare will solve the problem.

    Indeed it would 'get' people off welfare if there were no welfare at all, but the trick there is that it would be helping the poor as much as 'allowing the poor to suffer with no welfare'.

    This has been done in big cities by conservative governments. They even get to cite statistics, "We have an 80% reduction of welfare recipients!", leaving it to your imagination how 'they' helped these poor folk to a better life!

    Simply by completely abandoning the homeless, the homeless problem is not 'our' problem anymore!

    But, "Hey!", these folk are also pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-faith-based initiatives, pro-global-business, pro-"me for me and you for you"!

    If your agenda is to try to FORCE religion into government and vice-versa it is obviously easier to indoctrinate the uneducated to increase the voter-base for your agenda.

    If government is doing a better job of 'feeding the poor' than Christians, then one obvious solution is pretended empathy because it the agenda works, then the pitiful effort of Christians to help the poor is going to seem MIRACULOUS, now isn't it?

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  51. Great posting Brian. Our viewpoints on the matter aren't too askew.

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  52. Or, as Pliny might say, we have a cognitive bias.

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  53. Ahhh, back to me old self again. It was getting hard to breathe in that costume...

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  54. Or, as Pliny might say, we have a cognitive bias.

    ----------

    As me ole' pappy used to say, It ain't a cognitive bias son, to get off the tracks when you see a train coming'. Some things are just right.

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  55. Your pappy used to say that???
    Mine used to say, "Mix me a pitcher of martinis, woman!"

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  56. That was before Momma left his drunk ass...

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  57. I guess she didn't have any empathy for his drinking...

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  58. Wholeheartedly agree with your judgments about the nature of bearing hatred, even if it is justifiable, Brian. The presence can skew your perspectives, and color your experience to the extent that you begin to rely on your hatred so much, feeding into it to a degree that you are almost defined by it. It is something that you do not want to lend too much of yourself over to. But, that good people do, for good reasons...it's a tragedy, but it happens. But, I guess that sometimes the hatred is better than the alternative: doubt, fear, sorrow, the agony of emotional pains and restraints, which hatred offers an easy escape from.

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  59. "I didn’t realize at the time that there are two components to the balanced person...Empathy and Intellect."

    Just two components? It seems to me that this is a vast oversimplification. We can easily imagine someone who is intelligent, empathetic, and completely without compassion (that's the key: empathy doesn't entail compassion). Empathy is just the capacity to put yourself in another person's position, as it were, and to feel what he or she feels; there's no contradiction involved in feeling someone else's pain *and liking it* (think 'schadenfreude'). I think you're confusing 'empathy' and 'compassion': the latter involves not only 'feeling another's pain,' but a desire and prompt to alleviate it.

    "The ancient Chinese depicted this by the familiar but not well understood Yin-Yang symbol of blended opposites...The balance between the emotional mind versus the rational mind. Intuition and empathy versus intellect and logic."

    I don't in any way see a necessary *opposition* between 'emotion' and 'intellect.' There's a big difference between a desideratum and an opposition.

    "We seem to have a good idea what knowledge and intellect is, and what an intelligent person is, but not so many of us *understand* empathy in equally clear terms."

    Here's an example of what I just wrote. Here you're saying that we need to understand empathy, which suggests that intellect is the foundation of empathy, yet above you explicitly opposed intellect and empathy.

    "If a person sees a child suffering, they tend to feel compassion for it. This is a rather basic example of empathy..."

    Here's an example of your confusing empathy and compassion. Empathy is a necessary condition of compassion, but it's not a sufficient one.

    "But when you talk to some of the people that declare themselves Pro-Life, they often reveal that they are only so due to ideological reasons, and not due to actual real empathy on their parts, since they feel nothing for the poor and starving already-born children in our society, falling through the cracks, receiving inadequate medical care and education, often turning to a life of crime and drugs, and dying violently at a young age."

    This strikes me as either trite if you mean the very few idiots you'll find on either side of the ideological divide, or patently false if you mean 'most' pro-lifers. If you're suggesting a connection between pro-life advocates and Republican economic policies, then you're confusing debates about 'means' with a debate about 'ends.' For example, it's not necessarily the case that someone who opposes, say, universal health care feels no empathy (or compassion!) for those with 'inadequate medical care'; rather, it's more often the case that they don't think the means adequate, and that they believe that the quality of care overall will decline radically. Now, you can of course disagree with this, but notice that it's then a debate about means, not ends.

    "These same “Pro-Life” people are also often Pro-War, which is actually anti-empathy, the very opposite of it."

    Hardly anyone is 'pro-war' in general; people support particular wars for particular reasons, and you know it.

    "And the Pro-Life movement is noticeably unconcerned with the health of the mother, and her choices in her life, and she’s a person too. So they feel selective empathy, if any at all."

    Notice that the same argument, and the same charge can be made against many of those who are pro-choice.

    "Real empathy is elusive. It’s not something easily defined. I think it is perhaps easier to get a handle on if you simply think of it as... love for all others, based in the idea of universal brotherhood."

    This goes beyond empathy and beyond compassion: it's best categorized as 'agape.'

    "Love for others *based on nothing more than the knowledge that the other person is a person too*, just another version of ourselves, trying their best to make their way in the world like we are, and as such deserving of our love, as we are of theirs."

    I wonder how you justify this. From an evolutionary perspective, we may have an interest in preserving our genes and the genes of our family members, but note that one of the fundamental principles of evolution is the notion that it is other members of our species who are most directly in competition with us (since they need the same resources we do). In other words, on a naturalistic worldview, it's hard to see how you get from 'evolution' to 'agape.' Sure, there are strategies that will get you to altruism (of a limited and by definition provisional type; when it's extended to everyone, it is, as Richard Dawkins has said, an evolutionary 'misfiring' -- though, as he also said, no doubt not literally, a 'blessed' one), but not to agape (which is by definition universal and active).

    "To truly love thy neighbor must mean to learn to see life through their eyes, to learn to use your imagination to picture how they see life, in order to relate to them. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to temporarily give up your own presuppositions and prejudices and to instead imagine having those (if any) of the other person. You must imagine being them, literally, in order to truly empathize with them, in order to love them. It’s an acquired skill."

    This is where the limited nature of your conception of the balanced person shows most clearly. Whether we like it or not, we're not always going to be able to understand other people, and even when we try (which of course we should), our results will always be much less than perfect. What is needed when we're talking about the sort of love you're referring to is 'will.' You love, even if you can't understand.

    "Now what if you happen to be a fundamentalist Christian and are confronted with an atheist? You are commanded to love them, but how can you love an atheist? After all, they’re against everything that you’ve been taught is good and pure. All Christians have been commanded by Christ Himself to love their neighbors, to thus love all others, and here such a command is in apparent conflict with the rest of their faith."

    Not even fundamentalist Christians can hate atheists and remain true to their faith. I fail to see where the conflict between Christ's commands and even fundamentalist Christianity is. (Note, you're talking not about attitudes, but about articles of faith. I'm not what you would term a 'fundamentalist,' but I know of no 'fundamentalist' Christian principle that would prevent fundamentalists from loving atheists.)

    "So the Christian cannot condemn the atheist nor attempt to convert him or her to their faith, in spite of how much they may wish to. This would not be love. This would not be empathy. This would be selfishness and egotism, since it is incredibly egotistical to think that you are fit to judge others. Jesus specifically warned against this, lest we forget. Judge not, lest ye be judged."

    This is a load of cobblers, and it rests on an understandable misunderstanding of one of the least understood texts in the Bible. The Greek word 'krino' is nearly synonymous with the slightly stronger 'katakirino,' and is best rendered not as 'judge,' but as what we would understand 'condemn' to mean, viz. final judgment. That aside, if a Christian believes his or her view of the world to be correct, then he (she) arguably has a moral duty to try to persuade (not force!) others. I have no problem whatsoever with atheists taking upon themselves the same obligation of trying to persuade me that I'm wrong (for my benefit), though atheism in itself, unlike Christianity, imposes no necessary duty to do so upon atheists.

    "When you learn to see things as others see them, you eventually learn to see how they see you. And once you can see how others see you, and learn to average out the impressions that others seem to have of you, you then possess one of the most important keys to your own personality that you can ever have: An unbiased view of yourself."

    I don't think we can ever achieve an 'unbiased view' of ourselves, but that quibble aside, let me end on a note of agreement: (almost!) true, an well said.

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  60. Picky, picky, picky, eric.

    You say, "This is a load of cobblers, and it rests on an understandable misunderstanding of one of the least understood texts in the Bible. The Greek word 'krino' is nearly synonymous with the slightly stronger 'katakirino,' and is best rendered not as 'judge,' but as what we would understand 'condemn' to mean, viz. final judgment."

    Can we agree that the vast majority of Christians and anyone else reading the booklets that they would read, "Judge not lest ye be judged.", and conclude that one ought not to take on the responsibility of judging others lightly when the one doing it would not want to be judged for their 'crimes'?

    Simply by saying that that is a 'load of cobblers' you have judged Brian's interpretation of that 'scripture'.

    I believe that you yourself would be judged harshly for this judgement by nearly all therefore since most would find Brian's meaning in this quote it would be YOU who is in the wrong!

    You seem to take pains to quibble and cavil over exact meanings of words such as empathy vs. compassion.

    I'd bet that 99.99% of the population imagine that they mean the exact same thing!

    Yes, technically empathy is what a sadist has when he inflicts pain, but no-one thinks of empathy in that sense.

    Shit, eric, I don't imagine most sadists think of themselves as having empathy.

    Maybe, if they are cavilling smartasses pointing out to their victim how much they are enjoying putting pain in him/her is 'empathy' specifically to increase that there sick enjoyment.

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  61. "I believe that you yourself would be judged harshly for this judgement by nearly all therefore since most would find Brian's meaning in this quote it would be YOU who is in the wrong!"

    Since when do we determine what's true and what's false by majority opinion? (Does that mean that god exists, since most people think he does? Or, if you object that the issue is language, does that mean that evolution is 'just a theory,' because most people aren't aware of the technical, scientific use of the word 'theory'? Most people aren't scientifically literate, and most people don't read koine greek, and you know what? In the two cases I've just referred to, *most people are wrong*.) The question isn't 'How do most people read it, *in translation*?' but 'What does the text mean, and how is 'krino' most accurately rendered?' 'Don't condemn!' and 'Don't judge!' are very different commands, especially given the vagueness of the English term 'judge.'

    "You seem to take pains to quibble and cavil over exact meanings of words such as empathy vs. compassion.
    I'd bet that 99.99% of the population imagine that they mean the exact same thing!"

    Again, they'd be wrong. (Of course, the percentage isn't nearly that high, I'd wager.) More importantly, they'd be missing an important conceptual distinction that helps us think more clearly about these issues.

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  62. eric said:
    "From an evolutionary perspective, we may have an interest in preserving our genes and the genes of our family members, but note that one of the fundamental principles of evolution is the notion that it is other members of our species who are most directly in competition with us (since they need the same resources we do). In other words, on a naturalistic worldview, it's hard to see how you get from 'evolution' to 'agape."

    An excellent point. I'll try to answer it, but please note that it is just conjecture. For most of our history, we were not in direct competition with other human beings, and natural selection was functioning almost exclusively on the species vs. species level that it is supposed to. In the form of loose groups of collaborating individuals, it is obvious that people who were able to work together could just plain survive better in the realm of pre-civilization humanity. Once we started to show dominance over other species through application of increasingly advanced technology, then the competition between human beings became more relevant, but even then, group cooperation was relevant. That's where agape/empathy/compassion comes in, since a society would fall apart if people did not just care for their immediate family, but also have enough concern for one another to be disinclined to kill them. A shared amount of tolerance and acceptance is the glue that keeps us together, and is more or less an evolutionary imperative arrived at through sociological necessity.

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  63. Eric:
    "In other words, on a naturalistic worldview, it's hard to see how you get from 'evolution' to 'agape."
    It is precisely because of the evolution of human culture that we have the opportunity to intellectualize to such concepts as agape. When day to day survival is no longer all that occupies people (perhaps because their societal development permits at least some individuals to become philosophers rather than hunter/gatherer/warriors), we have the opportunity to excercise our itellects. It appears that it is this intellect that allows us to "rise" above all of our fellow animals and sets us apart from them. Clearly, the idea of AGAPE (perfect, selfless love of fellow man) did not start with Christianity, but it has made it into a positive characteristic for us to strive towards. In the purely phlosophical version, agape is seen as a universal "good" that should stand on its own merits and whose achievement in life would be its own reward. The Christian version is sought for because "God commands it", with the implied punishment for failure that any of God's commands carries.
    So, in this regard, I agree with Brian's contention that both intellect and empathy/compassion, in proper balance, are the characteristics of a "good" person.

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  64. Come on eric, "Since when do we determine what's true and what's false by majority opinion?"

    This isn't a major point in Brian's post. Why would Brian be expected to study the frickin' greek of that scripture?

    Isn't that just pointless cavilling?

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  65. A couple of observations:
    Eric said, "...note that one of the fundamental principles of evolution is the notion that it is other members of our species who are most directly in competition with us (since they need the same resources we do)."
    My take: This is the evolutionary basis for xenophobia and racism as a survival mechanism. If Jesus actually said the things he is credited with saying(indeed, it doesn't really matter if it was Jesus or some later author, the message is the same), then the message to love your neighbor becomes akin to "Put away your instinctual feelings toward others and become less like animals."
    Next, I think what Eric was saying about the contrast between empathy and compassion is fundamentally that empathy is internal, only a feeling; whereas compassion requires an action on one's part because of the empathy.

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  66. I'm intentionally blurring concepts together to simplify. If you understand the concepts of yin and yang you can see that they are related in that sense. Empathy and compassion are similar enough in common parlance as well, in addition to both being "yin" qualities.

    Eric, you need to speak less GREEK and also less GEEK. I agree with Pboy that you tend to cavil. I wish I knew what your deal is. You're a conundrum.

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  67. "Eric, you need to speak less GREEK and also less GEEK."

    Not that there's anything wrong with speaking Geek....right? [panicked glances]

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  68. I think I'll do a post on "Yin and Yang" sometime soon. I tend to use the concept a lot in my own assessment of reality.

    The concept is not verbal, but you can get at it with words if the listener isn't too RIGID about it...

    (Why am I thinking of Eric, I wonder?)

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  69. Yeah, but a little geek can go a long way...

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  70. eric is using words ambiguously just for the sake of being argumentative.

    schadenfreude doesn't have anything to do with empathy.

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  71. "Thank you Harvey. I couldn't see NOT particiating, it's so interesting. I don't know how Dinesh resisted.

    (bet he didn't)

    (as in, fake name)"

    were you suggesting eric here? possibly?

    if eric isn't dinesh in disguise he's a dinesh clone.

    the argumentation is incredibly similar...

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  72. Evolution to Agape (Map)

    Evolution (Primitive Primates)

    Stronger Primates-> and Smarter-> Smarter still-> Smart enough to be selected over Strength-> Strength matters less while Smart is selected for more and more-> A level of Smart is attained where we start to control our environment so that we have even more time for Smart-> A level of Smart is attained where it becomes OBVIOUS that Agape is the optimal universal behavior.

    (We're not all there yet)

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  73. When I say empathy in this post, I'm also grouping in with it the emotional concepts of compassion, caring, loving (agape), and even the concept of "emotional intelligence" and probably a bunch of other related concepts, also including visual imagination, intuition, and lateral versus linear thinking. (Yin)(Binah)

    As compared to intellect, logic, verbal acuity, mathematical ability, ratiocination, linear versus lateral thinking, etc. (Yang)(Chochma)

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  74. Good idea about the Yin/Yang thing Brian. Most xians don't ever get past "That's not the Bible" to ever see the elagance (and peacefulness and acceptance, and, and, and,...)of eastern religions. After having looked over all the major religions in college (recently, too: I got my Bachelor's in May last year), Buddhism looked to me like the front-runner candidate for a "true" belief system. Just my opinion, tho.

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  75. It can be said that I wrote this post starting from the emotional side, the "yin" side, so this means that I started with nonverbal "feelings" and "hard-to-define-verbally" emotional concepts as I felt that they related to the human condition and politics. Then I did my best to put them into words. Naturally if you dissect said post now approaching it from the opposite side, the logical-rational "yang" side, you can be pleased to discover errors and technical flaws. You weren't supposed to do that. You're supposed to get the "feel" of the two concepts, the masculine and feminine if you will, and apply that to people and personalities. Which works very well, if you can get used to thinking like that.

    I think of people and their personalities in yin-yang terms, automatically. I've found that this is a tremendous help to me. I was trying to share this and see if others found any value in it.

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  76. Oh, and Eric...

    You're the most "yang" personality posting here by far. Interesting. You're practically all yang and no yin. At least, that's what you're showing me.

    Get some yin into you, dude. Smoke some weed, bang an art major, take an interpretive dance class... Meditate! It's all good...

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  77. Wait till I introduce the Tree-Of-Life (Otz Chaiim) into this line of reasoning.

    Chochma and Binah are only two "spheres" of the TEN. So you have yin and yang, plus eight other concepts that interrelate.

    (Another post, another day)

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  78. schadenfreude doesn't have anything to do with empathy.
    -----------------
    I agree.

    Taking pleasure in another's pain is not empathizing with it. If you empathize with it, you feel it too, and not the opposite.

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  79. Eric, here's a meditation for you:

    Think on this: What is the "I" in you that is reading this now? Can you sense your own innermost identity, the consciousness that is reading this? Can you imagine looking mirror-like backwards into yourself until you define that which comprises your simplest, most irreducible atom of identity? Not the "I am Eric" but even more basic than that. The "I am..." and that's it.

    Once you get that down, ask yourself, "Is it real, this "I?" Or is the thinker identical with the thought?

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  80. Oh, and since I was thinking about it, I've placed in a new picture at the bottom of the blog. The Tree-Of-Life, with planetary attributions... An Hermetic version.

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  81. I was actually meditating on these things while I was tripping out at a Bob Weir concert last week. It was very interesting, but very scary.

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  82. "Once you get that down, ask yourself, "Is it real, this "I?" Or is the thinker identical with the thought?"

    tat tvam asi

    how very hindu of you, brian.

    i think eric could definitely benefit from this.

    :)

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  83. SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!

    Please share any breaking news you have on the election at P.E.C.!

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  84. Yes, tat tvam asi. You are that.

    A very hard concept for the western mind to grasp, as it turns out.

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  85. Your tree of life looks a lot like a BuckyBall

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  86. Buckminster-Fullerine? Sort-of...

    It's the Universal Buckyball of Consciousness...

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  87. Ahhhh, so it houses a small kernel of truth in its lattice...

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  88. Buckyball? No way, looks much more like a cross-polytope.

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  89. Kinda like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:16-cell.gif

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  90. Looks like the skeleton of a hot dog I ate a coupla days ago that gave me indigestion...

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  91. Are hot dogs supposed to have skeletons?

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  92. All hot dogs are four-dimensional....

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  93. I agree...

    Meat, bun, relish and mustard. It's all there.

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  94. It really DOES look like a cross polytope. Cool.

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  95. This reminds me of the buddhist hot dog joke...

    You know, "Make me one with everything..."

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  96. That Tree-Of-Life diagram is the only map that I've ever seen to enlightenment, or at least to realizing your higher self, if you will. Personal evolution. You aspire to rise on the "middle pillar" while balancing the pairs of opposites in the "outer pillars." The bottom sphere is the earth, concrete reality, and the top one is "union with God" or the ultimate personal realization of unity, practically off-limits to incarnated humans...

    The outer pillars correspond to "jachin and boaz" as well. As in the masonic rites.

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  97. And when you work it in reverse, from top to bottom instead of bottom to top, it's a map to manifestation instead of to personal realization...
    Amazing glyph, really. It takes a lifetime to understand it. I'm a complete tyro, but even so I can catch a glimmer of brilliance in it.

    It has been called "the E=MC2 of spirituality" as in, one of the most startlingly brilliant things ever thought of in the area of spirituality, as much so as Einstein's equation was in it's own area of physics.

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  98. Combining East and West, I see the tree as the "expanded version" of the yin-yang symbol. It contains it, but is much more than it is. It's like someone took the original idea of the yin-yang and explored specific key aspects of it as it relates to personal development and to manifestation. It elucidates the yin-yang concept to the Western mind.

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  99. A Brief Overview for those with more than passing interest:

    0
    0 0

    0 0
    0
    0 0
    0

    0

    Top sphere = Union with the "all," the source of all manifestation. Even the yin and yang aren't differentiated yet. They are "one" still, as well. (God)

    Next two spheres, R to L = Yang and Yin, male and female, the eternal opposites.

    Next two spheres, R to L = Loving Kindness and Limitation. The balance between growth and love and niceness, with limitation, severity, and discipline.

    Center Sphere = The point of balance of the tree. The first goal of the aspirant. The PERFECTLY balanced man (or woman.) The "higher self." Halfway between heaven and earth. (The Christ is assigned to this sphere)

    Next two spheres, R to L = The emotional mind and the rational mind.

    Next center sphere (next to bottom row) = The Imagination. The key to entry from the bottom sphere (earth/material world) to the rest of the higher spheres.

    Bottom, center sphere = As noted previously, the real world, the material world, the world of forms. Maya.

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  100. Brian:

    The Hebrew word for tree is AYTZ (pronounced exactly like "eights")
    "Otz" doesn't remind me of any Hebrew or Aramaic word I know.

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  101. (The spacing of the zeros that I used to illustrate the tree diagram got screwed-up, spacing-wise, when I posted them. Look at the diagram as it appears at the bottom of the main page.)

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  102. Harvey, are you pronouncing it in ashkenazi or sepphardic dialect?

    It's variously transliterated as "Otz," and "Etz" and a few others.

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  103. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etz_Chaim

    Go here for the proper Hebrew, etc.

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  104. It looks like "ayin-tsaddi-cheth-mem" to me... I'm a little rusty, but it seems right.

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  105. Observant should show up for this. This is about as permissive of religion as we ever get.

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  106. It's like the word cabala. How many English spellings of that are there? A zillion.

    In Hebrew I think it's just quoph-beth-lamed, and that's it.

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  107. And I appreciate you all being so permissive here.

    Actually I don't see this as religion at all. Just spirituality.

    You can assign ANYTHING to it's place on the tree.

    A flower. A dog. The sun. Ancient pantheons of gods. The planets. The tarot. Astrology. Technology. Atheism. My left hand. Love. Hatred. Obsession. Ambivalence. Anything that you can think of. It's a map of the entire universe, in a spiritual sense.

    Once you get used to thinking in it's terms, it makes spiritual things much more accessable to the waking consciousness.

    In my opinion, it's ideal for the detail, word-oriented individual that likes to think in logical terms. It "grabs them" by their love of detail and logic, and leads them down the path of its opposite, spirituality and intuition, which is normally inaccessable to such a person.

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  108. And to make the tree more complicated there are twenty-two "paths" or transitional states between the ten spheres, each assigned one of the Hebrew letters, and each of THOSE also have metaphysical significance.

    So the tree is the ten numbers of the decimal system coupled with the twenty-two letters of the (Hebrew) alphabet.

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  109. Brian - come over and sign in on the historic posting as the RI rep!

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  110. Brian:
    Not to be too picky, since we are discussing alliteration from Hebrew, an entirely phonetic language to English, in which many letters and diphthongs can be pronounced very differently:
    To my ear, either etz or aytz is OK, whether it is Ashkenazi or Sephardit. Tzadek is always TS. Ayin can be pronounced AY or EH, but I am not aware of any words where it is pronounced O. The unvoiced vowel usually used for OH, AH, etc. is Aleph. The Chaim part (life) is correct, of course.
    Needless to say, the pronunciation of the words in English has little or no bearing on the validity of the concepts you are discussing here.

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  111. You guys condemn eric for (figuratively) speaking Greek, and then start speaking in (/about) Hebrew. I think that this is a clear double standard. I am taking my toga, and going home.

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  112. I lied. Cheers to a happier four year interval.

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  113. President Barack Obama!!!!!!!!!!!

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We have progressed So far!

    I'm cried out here... But still weeping somehow...

    Let's hope that he's even HALF of what we think he is.

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    President OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It's all new from here on in....

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  114. Shit, I knew it. The so-called-left-wing-media are already weaving in the premise that when HE is president he, unlike Bush, won't be able to spend a dime of 'taxpayer's money' except on neocon approved projects.

    This is 'standard operating procedure' for the conservatives and, sadly, the democrat congressmen who wouldn't dream of 'rubber-stamping' Obama's proposed policies.

    I think that there was a choice tonight between insane and even more insane and it was a great victory for the merely insane.

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  115. "I think that there was a choice tonight between insane and even more insane and it was a great victory for the merely insane."

    Yep. I'll take the passive, pensive insane nutjobs over belligerent, sociopathic insane nutjobs any day. And, for once, America agrees! Let the insanity paradigm shift! The winds of madness...they are a-changing directions! And hopefully, as the insane meet with the more insane in order to develop a plan that neither one of them care for, we will stumble our way back up the slope that we have slid down for eight years. Or, at least drunkenly whirl around in circles on a plateau. It's all that we can really hope for.

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  116. Indeed, you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict that the pesky 'liberal' media will suddenly have a strange fascination for how muchee things are costing and why that is causing inflation.

    It is the standard paradigm that Democrats, and ONLY Democrats cause inflation.

    "Our money is worthless!", they will shriek.

    "If only we had good ol' conservative policies!", they will shriek!

    "What we need is government to give business a free rein!", they will shriek!

    And the slide back down to 'ignorance is bliss', 'war is peace' etc. will gain a foot hold in magical thinker's minds.

    I, pboy-odamus, have spoken.

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  117. WOOHOOOOO!

    Medical marijuana passed in Michigan, and I'm a glaucoma patient! Gotta go find my seeds that I've been saving since the late '70s...

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  118. Hey, I just had an idea... We should sell tickets to the rapture, and see if anybody wants to buy some...

    ;o)

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  119. Brian,

    Interesting post. Your mind becomes clearer to me when you write at length. Because you remind me of me of course.

    It's now post election and I'm extremely ambivalent about President-elect Obama. I voted along the two basic lines of experience, and abortion. I don't like John McCain but for me it wasn't difficult to cast the ballot.

    That being said, when I heard the news I cried a little. It shouldn't matter to me but my heart was and is about doing somersaults, because Obama is bi-racial. Part of me is disappointed, part of me is overjoyed (ecstatic actually).

    I even called my dad up (I'm in my thirties) like a little kid in a trembling voice, talking about this cultural victory.

    It's funny Brian, I don't empathize with the Democrats or the Republicans (which I probably should). I just voted my conscience. I feel like I lost a little today as a conservative christian but won as an American. Does that make any sense?

    -oneblood

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  120. The Rapture, of course! Obama's victory is the sign of the rise of the antichrist, but the world isn't supposed to face judgment until after Palin clinches her rogue victory in 2012 near the close of the 12th Baktun, ushering in the full revelation of God and "Jesus the Savior". Maybe global warming really is a natural part of the End of Days, and the decimation of New Orleans was just a warning of God's righteous wrath.

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  121. Hi Oneblood... Why posting as anonymous?

    Anyhow, I'm glad that you're dealing with it and even a bit hapy in spite of your convictions.

    Hey, know what? I honestly and truly think that abortions will go way down under Obama. I don't like them either, you know. Nobody's really pro-abortion. Yuck.

    Let's hope so.

    I really think the MUCH better man for the job won. I have HOPE that he'll be an excellent president.

    And, we're in a new era! Pretty neat.

    Come back and post more often, dude.

    Take care.

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  122. Oneblood:
    "I just voted my conscience. I feel like I lost a little today as a conservative christian but won as an American. Does that make any sense?"

    -oneblood

    Congratulations! You have not only listened to your intellect (ss well as your heart), but you have been honest enough with yourself to admit it. If all far left and far right voters were willing and able to do what you have done, our country and our culture would be in a much better place. We now must hope (or pray, if you prefer) that those of us who were in favor of Mc Cain realize that 1)the people have spoken (fortunately with a clear preference) and 2)now that Obama is our next president, we had better all get behind him and pray for his success (even if only for selfish reasons).

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  123. Sorry to be so satirical, but the opportunity presented itself, and I have reason to vent a little today. Correction: the 13th Baktun is closing.

    In contrast to Oneblood, I liked McCain (until this campaign eroded my affection), but feel the Democratic win as a moral victory. I see them as the protectors of pluralism, opening the doors of respect to all faiths, rather than just their own.

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  124. Brian,

    You remember that google pword thing I emailed you about? That's why I'm posting anonymous...it's by default, go fig.

    I have to admit I was proud of McCain when he called President-elect Obama, "My President." Just as a human being that meant a lot to me.

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  125. Both candidates marketed themselves as advocates of bipartisanship. I think we can look forward to the day they work together, when we will see "Empathy and Intellect" in action.

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  126. I have to admit I was proud of McCain when he called President-elect Obama, "My President." Just as a human being that meant a lot to me.
    --------------------
    Me too. He was very gracious.

    I really wish that he didn't descend as low as he did inn his campaigning though. I mean, not really because he might have won then, but it's a shame, since I had a very positive image of McCain back in 2000 and even more recently, but he seemed to just trade away his honor for a shot at the golden ring.

    I can admit now that I would have been devastated if Obama had lost last night. In fact, I was thinking that it was really the best case scenario for another reason other than I think he's the more qualified. I think that the Republicans, while they certainly don't like the results, can live with them and try again in four years, etc. If McCain had won, I frankly would have lost most of the remaining faith that I had in this country. America would have never been the same to me. I'd always think of it as a land of racist bigots and religious nuts, and I'd have a lot of trouble being proud of my country, ever again. And I think a lot of Democrats, especially those of color, would have felt the same misery. So this way, less people are destroyed emotionally.

    I'm serious. I think I would have become clinically depressed. And thinking about how much I'd like to live somewhere else.

    Now I'm fine, thanks for asking. :-)

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  127. To get an idea how I would have felt, imagine watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and when you got to the end of the third movie, in that last scene, Sauron bites Frodo's head off and wins the ring back, and destroys all of Middle Earth.

    Now multiply feeling that by about a thousand.

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  128. "To get an idea how I would have felt, imagine watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and when you got to the end of the third movie, in that last scene, Sauron bites Frodo's head off and wins the ring back, and destroys all of Middle Earth."

    That would've been f$%#ing hardcore! And also an incredible waste of time and plot leading up to that point. So...a bit of a toss-up..

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  129. I have to counter with your LOTR analogy. I imagine it would be much more like Darth Vader yelling "NOOOOOOO!!!" multiplied by 60 million.

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  130. I wonder what the KKK is thinking along about now.

    I hope that Obama has the best secret service protection that has ever been seen, and then some. A lot of angry haters are out there today finding themselves in a world they just can't live with. And they ALL have guns.

    My wife works for the state, and told me today that while she was in court this morning, that the court cop was verbally abusing a young kid, shouting at him to pull up his pants, and the kid didn't speak English... She asked the judge "What's up with him?" and the judge replied "He's angry that McCain lost..." Niiiiiccccceeee...

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  131. It would be more like if Luke Skywalker got Vader's lightsaber up his ass at the end of the first movie.

    (What a way to go...)

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  132. It seems that last one may have been a conversation killer.

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  133. Getting a lightsaber up your ass usually is, I'm afraid.

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  134. Light-saber up the wazoo?

    Talk about dilation and curettage!(not really)

    Hey, it might have cured a horrendous hemorroid problem AND a terrible case of 'the stucks'!

    Sorry. Still a bit 'giddy' at the result.

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  135. McCain: Note to self. Never hire a running-mate that is her own parody!

    WTF- my 'word verification' was "abort"!

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  136. ya know, i'm really glad mccain reverted back to his decent self last night with his speech. there are still too many things i found out about him during the election for me to ever truly respect him again, but he took the loss like a champ.

    i wish the same could be said for those who attended his speech. well, they have four years to get over it. then hopefully they'll have another four after that too :)

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  137. Nader bypasses the grapes and goes with pure, concentrated 'sour'.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrCw6iRhvaI

    Bad Nader!

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  138. Never did like Ralph. One of my Chevys is a 1965 Corvair convertible.

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  139. Light sabers up the ass not withstanding, (OK, that was fun. How many times do you have the need to preface a comment with that? LOL) I too was happy with JM's concession speech, he said all right things and was very gracious. A flash of the old JM.
    But (Richelle had buts, I have some too) I kept thinking "why why WHY JM did you do what you did?" He and Palin are leaving in their wake hundreds of thousands of people who will continue to believe that their new president hates the USA, supports terrorism, is a Muslim, probably not a citizen, and is a socialist. All the while KNOWING while they were doing it that it wasn't true. JM now supports his president elect, because he has always known he was lying. If he was telling the truth then, and now supporting him, he would be a terror supporter too, wouldn't he? But that nuance is lost on those who were suseptible to being whipped into a fear and hatred frenzy. He had the responsibility, in serving the country he says he loves, to not do so much mindless, destructive damage to the unity of the American public. He will be able to shrug his shoulders and go back to being a senator, not fearful in the least that he is serving the president he described in his campaign. Many of his followers will ALWAYS believe what he and Palin said. He did a disservice to his country, big time. I'm ready for the new era to be ushered in, I am SO proud of the rest of us and hopeful for our future now.

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  140. I'm adding Obama, Japan (日本の小浜市) to my list of places to visit.

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  141. "If McCain had won, I frankly would have lost most of the remaining faith that I had in this country. America would have never been the same to me. I'd always think of it as a land of racist bigots and religious nuts, and I'd have a lot of trouble being proud of my country, ever again."

    And this is what differentiates Republicans from Democrats. We lost -- period. And when we lose, we blame ourselves: the campaign's poor organization, the mixed-up message, etc. When you guys lose, you always blame the other guys: it's always, "They're stupid," or "They're racists" or "They fixed the voting machines"... Man, you guys are simply pathetic. Talk about being imbalanced. Here's a newsflash: most of the people who supported McCain aren't bigots, racists, etc. They simply didn't think your guy was up to the job. Is that so hard to believe? Are you so narrow minded that you honestly think that the only way someone could possibly disagree with you is if he's a bigot? Again, pathetic.

    Barack Obama will be my president. I didn't support him, but I wish him the best, *and I sincerely hope he proves me wrong*. If he does, I'll be the first to admit it, and to praise him for his accomplishments.

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  142. At the very least, we have this to look forward to: 2012 will not see McCain nor Palin on the big ticket as Republican candidates. The GOP would be insane to run either of them again.

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  143. Hey eric, that seems more than fair to me!

    I, and you probably 'knew' this anyway, disagree with you that most folk are even sane!

    I was in Walmart yesterday and the WALL asked me if I liked shopping.

    Most people seemed to take it in stride.

    Hey, maybe it's me. Maybe I just don't 'get out' enough.

    As I'm writing this a young visitor went past my (ahem) library and she seemed to have trouble opening the bathroom door, my fire alarm just went off and people are laughing!

    Four sets of eyes and noses and not one brain as 'sharp' as a stalk of celery between the lot of them.

    Every one of them thinks that I'M WEIRD!

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  144. Eric, I can see that you're in a good mood today...

    I maintain my statement. A country is only as good as it's leaders, and the leaders lately have been EVIL. This great country has redeemed itself by throwing off their yoke and getting with someone with a vision rather than an attitude. Your man was horrible. Pathetic. And as noted, it wasn't even the real McCain! He sold himself out completely, and lost as he should have.

    Your side IS THE SIDE of the KKK and the NeoNazis, remember? They never pick our side. And the Palin rallies, well, they were something I hope NEVER TO SEE AGAIN in this great land. Horrible hatefests.

    Our man won because there just weren't enough bigots around anymore. Unfortunately, there's still one hell of a lot of them.

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  145. And it wasn't just the bigotry, as in the Palin rallies, it was the SHEER EVIL of these people. My point was that another four years of these monsters would have been more than I could have taken. You can be proud fo them like you are, and all it means is that you lack judgement of character.

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  146. Hey, they figured out the fire-alarm thingy. The woman wondered why it(the alarm) was so close to the bathroom.

    Umm.. it is in a central location.

    The girl having trouble with the bathroom is a teenager and the door(and handle) is made for EASY access by people with no specific disability.

    I went to pick up Emma's medication the day after I had dropped off the prescription, yesterday, and they hadn't made it up yet. When I explained that I was a little confused by this 'having to wait' one pharmacist explained that sometimes people are told to wait for TWO days for their stuff to be ready!

    She seemed to be completely caught off guard when I pointed out that once the 'waiting period', no matter how long, was past, that that medication would, as a matter of common sense, surely BE READY!

    I'm not angry at these people, I'm just a little confused by them.

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  147. And look at the people at the rallies! Obama has the typical mix of races and ethnicities and McCain had a sea of angry white faces.

    Racism. Whether you can admit it to yourself or not, Eric.

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  148. Again, pathetic.
    -Eric
    --------------
    Sticks and stones. Being called pathetic by a McCainiac is a lot like being called a pervert by Larry Craig.

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  149. Sure. Racism and evil. I'm disappointed with you.

    A word of advice: focus a *LOT* more on developing the latter faculty referred to in the title of your current post.

    And I'm not in a bad mood at all about Obama's victory. (In fact, I'm always overjoyed to see the wonderfully smooth transitions of power between rival parties that take place following elections in this amazing nation of ours.) As I said, Obama won, he won fair and square, and he's the president elect: *my* president elect as much as yours. What always puts me in a foul mood, however, is the sort of stupidity and narrow mindedness displayed in your comments. McCain lost, but I *will not* descend to your level and claim that he only lost because those who voted against him are [place your insult of choice here]. McCain lost because fair minded people with good intentions disagreed with me, and thought Obama was the better person for the job.

    I had thought better of you. You seem like such a compassionate, open minded person. We may disagree about many issues, but they're intellectual disagreements. Like boxers after a hard fought match, we can choose to like and respect each other after a vigorous debate; however, when you call me, or those who agree with me, a racist and a bigot because of our sincerely held, perfectly legitimate political opinions, there's no room for mutual respect, and it's *you* who have crowded that space out with your narrow minded, deeply insulting characterizations. Look in the mirror, my friend, for you're becoming what you most despise.

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  150. Eric, it is my very compassion that makes me so vehement about this. My compassion is what sensed the "evil" of your party. Clearly.

    For instance, it is evil to want to keep your tax breaks that the poor do not have, when they are starving and you need it for that villa in Cannes. And yet, that is the prevailing attitude in your party. The original breaks were the "redistribution of wealth" and Obama only wants to restore the FAIRNESS to the system, and of course the robber barons didn't want to give it back. Too darn bad.

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  151. It is the fact that the current Republican party utterly lacks compassion that makes me dislike them so.

    And apparently there are an awful lot of people that feel as I do on that.

    And you know, I don't think that all Republicans are bigots. I do think that a lot of them are. But many are just shallow materialists and really think that the Dems are after their hoard. Either way, unattractive, to be sure.

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  152. I would say that many of the fundamentalist christian members of the GOP are the most severe bigots. Ironically enough.

    The rich GOPers are usually in the party because it thinks they're the only real americans that count when it comes to "redistributing the wealth." Hell to the GOP, the poor are invisible. What poor? We don't have any poor!

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  153. Look in the mirror, my friend, for you're becoming what you most despise.
    ------------------------
    I'm becoming a fundie neocon?

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  154. The only reason that any poor people are republicans is that they bought the lie about how they might get rich someday and then the Dems will steal their money. That and the religious stuff of course. As in, objection to gays and abortion.

    The GOP plays them like a fiddle. Sad.

    Well, it might change now. Hope so. I'm so tired of the lies.

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  155. All nonsense. Unadulterated nonsense.

    Try reading Tom Sowell, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, et al to understand *why* Republicans tend to support the economic policies they do. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the things you're referring to. Just think about it for a moment: Why would people from some of the poorest states overwhelmingly support Republican candidates *on economic issues*? They must be stupid, right? Wrong. They have a very different, and very well supported (two of the above economists are Nobel prize winners), view of the economy -- how it works, how it should work, and so on. It's not a question of whether the poor should be helped (and I was raised in an extremely poor, very unstable family, so I know a thing or two about this personally), but of how best to help them. Don't let your ideology blind you, Brian. Do some research, and try to understand how *and why* others see the world differently from you (isn't that a major point of your current post?) -- it's a much better strategy than the sort of demonizing you seem to specialize in.

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  156. Latest numbers from aol:
    (Popular vote)
    Obama: 63,784,438
    McCain: 56,337,186
    Total: 121,121,624
    Obama %: 53.1%
    McCain%: 46.9%

    Not all those who voted for McCain are bigots and assholes, Brian. Personally, I have a lot in common with Joe the Plumber. I hold professional licenses in two states, but have no hope of starting a business with them, even though that is the purpose of having them in the first place. I gross less than 40,000/yr, with those two licenses and 7 years of college.

    Not all those who voted for McCain can reasonably be said to be "rich", either.

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  157. I also know a thing or two about 'poor'. My mother had to raise four of us on welfare while going to college to get her nursing degree. I didn't want to air this out with Clif K. but listen:

    Lots of people like to praise Bill Clinton's time in the White House as a time of "Peace and Prosperity". Clinton was responsible for neither. No one I have ever asked has EVER been able to point to even one thing Bill Clinton did that promoted any of that, with one exception (and I'm the one who usually brings it up): that Wild Bill left Alan Greenspan in charge of the Federal Reserve. But wait! Wasn't Greenspan a Reagan appointee? Why didn't Bill replace him with a Democrat? Because EVERYONE was greedy, everyone felt that their 401k (based on stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) would ALWAYS increase in value. If you're honest, you know that those things, especially stocks are like playing roulette. There are and can be NO guarantees.
    Bill Clinton rode the wave that Reaganomics created, and everyone said it was good.
    Now that there has come a day of accounting, everyone wants to point the fingers at....


    Reagan!

    If Reagan and Greenspan are responsible for the mess we are in, then by default, Bill Clinton had NOTHING to do with it (the prosperity of the 1990's, that is).

    You can't have it both ways.

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  158. Just pointing out that normal, sane people CAN have sane and valid reasons for (once upon a time before Iraq) supporting the fiscal policies of the GOP, in spite of the fact that they're not objectively "rich".

    I'll bet a lot of Democrats voted with their wallets as well. Not all Democrats are poor, starving artists, either.

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  159. Well, I certainly didn't mean that all the people in the party were either bigots or assholes. It just seems that way to me when the most strident voices out there in the GOP are one or the other, mostly. Many are both.

    No Ed, I know you're not like that, and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. And Eric may not be an asshole or a bigot either. I don't have any evidence of either. I'm just in a catharsis mode after hearing the GOP lies so often for the last two years, and today I kinda snapped I guess. I mean, now they're trying to spin his win as the people getting someone that gives them hope but won't deliver and will just "teach us a lesson" for picking him. Sore losers much?

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  160. I mean, what's more important than hope? And yet, they spin it as a weakness!

    No doubt feeding the poor is namby-pamby as well.

    I need to work out this feeling. I'm rather angry as it turns out. Sorry, people. I mean, I'm ecstatic about Obama, but the lies of the recent past told by McCain are still sticking in my craw a bit. And it's not as if the GOP will stop telling them now that they lost...

    I really can't abide selfish liars that take advantage of the simple and the ignorant like that. Even though they lost, it's not as if they LEARNED anything from the exerience apparently.

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  161. Paul Krugman shares my opinion:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

    2008/11/05/the-monster-years/

    (Link cut in half so it would all post)

    And he won a Nobel Prize, too.

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  162. Bigots I know, too. My father made Archie Bunker look cuddly. I knew what dagos, kikes, wops, chinks and a couple of dozen other nasty epithets were before I started Kindergarten. He even shot the TV once when he was playing with his guns and forgot to unload one before dry-firing it at Doris Day.

    But I gotta go. See ya tomorrow.

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  163. If you get the documentary channel, look for a program called "Indoctrinate U". Very informative stuff about the liberal bent at universities.

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  164. "Indoctrinate U". Very informative stuff about the liberal bent at universities.
    ---------------------
    I think there's a 'liberal bent' at universities because universities are about teaching real things to people, and many conservatives prefer beliefs, thank you. So if the universities teach their students to be liberal, as in forward-thinking and open-minded, naturally the conservatives see it as "the enemy." Why would a university teach people to be more narrow-minded? They don't. And that bugs some people who live a narrow-minded life. Just my opinion though.

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  165. I mean, now they're trying to spin his win as the people getting someone that gives them hope but won't deliver and will just "teach us a lesson" for picking him.
    -Me, previously...
    --------------------------
    And to add to this, now that Obama's in, the GOP will do everything in it's power to see to it that Obama can't deliver on as many things as they can sucessfully block, just to make it seem that Obama is letting the country down. That's GOP S.O.P. I don't think they can stop him though. But they'd like to. Even at the expense of the country, as long as it makes him look bad and them look like they were telling the truth about him. It's a lot like how they always say that the government doesn't work, and then when they get elected they make sure that they prove it by screwing it all up as much as they possibly can. Then next time they run, what do they say? That the government doesn't work! It's all a big game of chess to them, with lies as pawns and the cost of playing the game set at the low, low price of only their soul.

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  166. Again, when I said "conservatives" I didn't mean all of them.

    (sigh)

    I'm trying...

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  167. Oh, and BTW, my so-cynical attitude about the GOP Robber-Barons and the "game" allowed me to "call" the fact that the price of gasoline would go way down just before the election. Big Oil looks out for its interests. So we'll be seeing it go back up now.

    Fill up your tanks while you can afford to....

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  168. I will look for that documentary though, in spite of what I said. Thanks.

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  169. Yeah, Krugman has a Nobel prize -- in *economics*. The article you cite was not about economics.

    Not only that, but Krugman:

    1. Confuses stupidity with evil (with the Delay quote: what he said was no doubt stupid -- even though Krugman selectively quoted him -- but it is a concern that people have had ever since, *and including*, Darwin).

    2. Takes obvious hyperbole literally (Rove was clearly talking about the tendency of liberals to focus on 'root causes' of our enemy's actions *at the expense of* action; Rove did have a point, which you can agree or disagree with, that he was stating hyperbolically; sorry, but that doesn't in any way make him a monster).

    3. Displays some serious stupidity of his own (only a moron thinks that Cheney was sitting around, just itching to torture someone, when 9/11 conveniently provided him with the opportunity).

    So, first of all Krugman wasn't talking about his area of expertise, so his Nobel is irrelevant; and second, his examples don't in any conceivable way demonstrate what he (and you) seem to think they do.

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  170. Not to you, Eric. That much is evident. Of course, you don't SEE the things that I and Mr. Krugman see, so how can you tell what is right? It's a blind spot, as in, you can't see something, and you aren't aware that you can't see something, and think the very idea is absurd.

    I see this a lot. Unfortunately, almost always in Republicans.

    (Again, not all of them are bad people; some are just unconscious enablers of bad people) (That was a joke, btw)

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  171. "Of course, you don't SEE the things that I and Mr. Krugman see, so how can you tell what is right? It's a blind spot..."

    Ah, so this is an example of 'aspect blindness' on my part, eh?

    First, perhaps your inabilty to see how farcical Krugman's remarks are demonstrates your 'aspect blindness,' not mine. Don't you see that the same argument works against you with equal force?

    Second, let's put it to the test: prove to me that Cheney was just itching to torture people for his own gratification before 9/11, and that he saw 9/11 as the means to this end.

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  172. eric seems to imagine that the average Archie Bunker-type has read Tom Sowell, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, et al!

    eric, eric eric,(shaking head).

    eric, (holding head in hands) let me give you a glimpse into the so-called mind of a red-neck..

    My dad:(crying to me) The city is complaining that my car port/sundeck is too close to the back yard!

    Me: Well the carpenter you hired gave plans to the city, he and the city are to blame, not you!(helping out? Hey, it's HIM crying to me about it.)

    My dad: I'll PAY to have it fixed if I WANT to!(smugly)

    Me: (thinking)hmmm.

    Can you 'see' the difference between your version of Archie Bunker types and what we laughingly call REALITY?

    Sure, my dad 'might' have read, "How to be a dad, it's easy! It's just like being a miserable cunt of an older brother!", or he might have just come by it naturally!

    What do YOU think 'smartboy'?

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  173. "Second, let's put it to the test: prove to me that Cheney was just itching to torture people for his own gratification before 9/11, and that he saw 9/11 as the means to this end"

    I would answer, but it would just wind up being a BDSM joke.

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  174. Second, let's put it to the test: prove to me that Cheney was just itching to torture people for his own gratification before 9/11, and that he saw 9/11 as the means to this end.
    ---------------------
    I couldn't prove to you that a lion is a dangerous animal, if you decided to debate me on the subject. You consider this a gift and I consider it a curse.

    Itching to torture people for his own gratification? Are you projecting? I never said that. He is in favor of torture because he thinks that it gets the job done. He thinks this because he is insane. He reduces it all to an equation in his mind, and like all other equations, the particular terms have no significance outside of the equation. So things like innocent deaths and torture, are translated in his thought into things like "collateral damage" and "harsh interrogation" or something like that, so he never has to face the reality of what he's doing. He sleeps well at night secure in the knowledge that he knows better. The false knnowledge. The belief.

    He's a redefiner. Like someone else I know.

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  175. Pboy, dude, you have issues.

    Tell me more.

    I think all real people need to have issues. I certainly do as well, as does my lovely wife. And most other people that I like and respect. It adds texture to the person. Character. That sort of thing.

    I'll show you mine if you you show me yours. :-)

    (Note: If you respond to that with a photo link, I sure as hell won't click it)

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  176. While I certainly think that Cheney (and people in general in high government offices, of either party) generally do the type of reductionist redefining that Brian is speaking of, it does seem a little silly to think of Cheney sitting anywhere, right now or whenever, and thinking to himself, "Well, if the torturing (REDEFINE: collateral damage) of these people (REDEFINE: objects) gets us what we want (REDEFINE: alibis for our actions), then it'll all be ok.

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  177. In othe words Eric, Cheney would be a textbook example of the "all logical/rational side and zero emotional/intuitive side person. Hugely imbalanced in the aforementioned Yin-Yang department. You know. The potential tyrant that I spoke of earlier.

    An ounce of real empathy, real compassion (so you have more difficulty in redefining) and he'd put that shotgun in his own mouth out of sheer guilt. And I'm not saying this out of bitterness, really. I mean that he would be absolutely overcome with guilt at what he'd wrought. I tend to exaggerate for effect sometimes.

    Of course, with that ounce of empathy he wouldn't have been so evil in the first place. So my shotgun metaphor would be superfluous.

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  178. And yet Oneblood, consider the (to you perhaps distant) possibility that this is exactly what he does. I honestly see it, and I'm far from blind or deluded. I am fantastic at seeing through liars. I've made it a priority in my life.

    It's not paranoia if someone's really out to get you. In other words, a proper amount of cynicism is key to survival in this world we have now, what with the existence of "professional deceivers." (read: Politicians) It comes true too often to be coincidental. It took me a long while to see that. I would spare you the time and effort if I could. We all wish it weren't true. Don't let that wish (that it isn't true) from an honest person such as yourself cloud your judgement. They count on you being honest and thus unable to imagine or believe that it's true. That's how they get away with it.

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  179. I don't know who oneblood is..

    I just happened to come by your blog while reading comments on one of DD's posts.

    The rest of your response was..uhm..

    I don't know.

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  180. Oh, SORRY!

    We have a regular poster whose real name is oneblood and he can't post as that, so he always shows up as "anonymous" so I naturally ASSumed that you were he...

    My sincere apologies. My response may have seemed hugely inappropriate considering that I thought that you were someone else with whom I am familiar.

    Oops..........

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  181. Brian said,
    "Why would a university teach people to be more narrow-minded? They don't. And that bugs some people who live a narrow-minded life. Just my opinion though."
    You REALLY need to see that documentary. Even I didn't think it was as bad as that.

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  182. 24 (McCain's favorite show) comes back this month. Maybe it will remind us of the honor and dignity of torture. To keep the show "fresh" they give us a "1st female president", though I'll always consider Mackenzie Allen as the real fictional 1st female president.

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  183. eric said: "What always puts me in a foul mood, however, is the sort of stupidity and narrow mindedness displayed in your comments."

    and earlier he said: "And this is what differentiates Republicans from Democrats. We lost -- period... When you guys lose, you always blame the other guys: it's always, "They're stupid," or "They're racists" or "They fixed the voting machines"... Man, you guys are simply pathetic."


    surely i'm not the ONLY person who sees the problem with this.

    it's easy for eric to call brian stupid and narrow-minded for assigning certain qualities (racist, bigot) to republicans, but is he exempt from stupidity and narrow-mindedness when he assigns qualities (pathetic, unaccountable) to the democrats?

    no, i think not.

    undoubtedly there are people who voted for mccain who are racist as well as ones who aren't. and sure, some democrats are sore losers, but then again so are some republicans (i heard a lot of booing during mccain's speech).

    let's try to refrain from being the pot calling the kettle black.

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  184. The kettle is half-black/half-white, but why split hairs?

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  185. Yes, Richelle, I had trouble with Eric's interpretation, too. The part about how "we repubs respond and how you dems respond." It's bullshit. I think the Dems pretty well shared response to the re-election of Bush, and the horror thoughts of McCain being elected after is a recent phenomenon. Back when Republicans were just the "party of business" and not what they are today, there was never this kind of response to Reagan, or Bush 41. And why would Republicans EVER have to lose such faith in their fellow citizens ability, we have never left them with anything like GWB and their party has left us with. Where do you start with Bush/Cheney? The secrecy, the lies, the outting of CIA agents, the incompetence, the trashing of the constitution, spying on citizens, instituting torture...OMG repeat that...we TORTURE. No bid contracts to friends, squandering our wealth, wracking up debt, and alienating our allies around the world. So for Brian to question the motives of why on Earth anyone would want to continue supporting a party that has done so much damage is understandable. This time, bigotry could have been a factor if McCain had one, but no, not the only one. It does not explain how Bush got in a 2nd time after we already knew he was trashing our country. At least, those of us who were paying attention knew it.
    And everyone voting this time knew that McCain would be pretty much the same. The fetid rot is in the party, so it doesn't matter who is leading. The article mentioned earlier was excellent. The Repub Party now needs to regroup and get back to who they were before.

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  186. "If you get the documentary channel, look for a program called "Indoctrinate U". Very informative stuff about the liberal bent at universities."

    ed,

    something i think you need to take into consideration about this documentary: it was made by the right-wing version of michael moore. i'm liberal and even i think moore is obnoxious.

    while i don't doubt there are some universities that are more liberal (berkeley) there are also those that are more conservative (any christian university). my fiance is, like me, a more liberal person and he went to baylor, a private baptist university. he knew it was a conservative university and he didn't cry about it while he was there, doesn't cry about it now. he is a big boy and he made the decision to go to a conservative college so he dealt with it like an adult.

    i know from personal experience that there are some classes that some conservative students tend to have difficulty in because part of the class involves discussing controversial issues. i took an ethics class that had several very religious, conservative students. most of the class focused on open discussion and ALL students were expected to explain the reasoning behind their arguments. doing that makes some people very uncomfortable and may make them feel like they are being "picked on" or "singled out" because of their ideas.

    i'm not saying there are no instances of teachers targeting certain students because of their ideologies, but it happens to either side and, in both cases, is equally unacceptable.

    there is a response to a portion of "indoctrinate u" from a blogger on free exchange on campus i think you should read. free exchange on campus is a left-leaning coalition, but they encourage the exchange of ideas from BOTH sides and they bring up some good points about the documentary. here is the link, when you click on the orange text for the response it downloads it as a file:

    http://www.freeexchangeoncampus.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=540

    despite the flaws in horowitz's research and data collection i will still see if i can get the documentary from netflix and look into renting it.

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  187. And....still thinking and babbling, aside from the election of Obama being the greatest gift we could have given ourselves, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to the Republican party. We have heard grumblings and dwindling support coming from the more moderate, business minded Republicans. They have not been happy to have their party hijacked by the right wing religious moral preaching base. But they seemed impotent to do anything about it, it was a steam roller, and the "you're either for us or against us" mentality that took hold was a no-win for them to try to buck their own system. NOW they have the mandate to do it. The message has been loud and clear that the country rejects this new brand of their politics, and it's no longer a winning way to go. No one party will ever have control of the country forever, nor should it. But the 2 parties who do represent us have to represent ALL of us. I was not a fan of Reagan, nor Bush 41, but I never feared them as evil (although Iran/contra came close) or anything like that. And I actually think Bush 41 was one of the best Republicans ever put up as far as intellect and stability, though I still disagreed with the platform. The Republicans now have to do away with fear, smears, character assasination, their invasive moral legislation, and such. We will all benefit from that in the future.

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  188. Thanks for the input, Richelle. I just recorded it the other night and haven't yet had time to check reviews or opposing viewpoints. If you get to see it, pay attention to the story about the guy who posted the flyers advertising the conservative African-American author coming to speak about his book, and what the university did to him.

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  189. "The Repub Party now needs to regroup and get back to who they were before."

    EXACTLY! ron paul is a very respectable republican and he could have been nominated in the primaries, but he wasn't. i think that shows what the agenda of most "republicans" is. they want someone who is going to take on social issues and try to profess themselves as the "moral party" instead of looking at policies like economy, military, government spending, taxes and diplomacy.

    i strongly believe if we had elected mccain the rest of the world would have just been like "oh shit, here we go again. the usa is still going to think they are judge, jury and executioner for the entire world."

    i don't think a lot of americans realize just how important it is for us to be respected by other nations. we've always been on top and we forget that it is possible for us to fall.

    for several years we've been behaving like the cocky teenager. we know it all, we know what's right and nobody can tell us any different. we're invincible. and i hope with obama we can start to see that we are merely one of many in the world and we need to work together, learn from our mistakes, listen to each other, and learn from each other.

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  190. Jude said,
    "We have heard grumblings and dwindling support coming from the more moderate, business minded Republicans. They have not been happy to have their party hijacked by the right wing religious moral preaching base. But they seemed impotent to do anything about it, it was a steam roller, and the "you're either for us or against us" mentality that took hold was a no-win for them to try to buck their own system. NOW they have the mandate to do it."

    I agree 100%

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  191. will do ed. if i watch it i'll be sure to let you know and maybe we can have a friendly discussion on the different issues it brings up. i thoroughly enjoy the civil exchanging of ideas. :)

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  192. Me too, Richelle.
    I guess my main thrust with the postings here is that there are extremists on BOTH sides. That the GOP had executive power AND extreme views at the same time has undoubtedly been unfortunate for planet Earth. I just want people to realize that the "knee-jerkin'" will be just as bad without some moderation.

    BTW, good luck with your fiance. Hope you guys make it.

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  193. "surely i'm not the ONLY person who sees the problem with this.
    it's easy for eric to call brian stupid and narrow-minded for assigning certain qualities (racist, bigot) to republicans, but is he exempt from stupidity and narrow-mindedness when he assigns qualities (pathetic, unaccountable) to the democrats?
    no, i think not."

    There's a hole in your reasoning big enough to fly an Antonov An-225 through. It *is* stupid and narrow-minded to suppose that if McCain had won, it would only have been because of stupid and narrow-minded voters (over 55 million of them *with a McCain loss*?!)?

    Come on, show a little more class. It's obviously stupid to characterize McCain voters that way. There are morons on both sides, but for the most part it was fair minded, sincere voters who decided this race.

    As for the 'response' to the Obama victory, compare the Hannity/Limbaugh response with the far left response to Bush's victories. Sorry, but this is empirical, and there's simply no comparison.

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  194. Richelle, here's a link to the documentary film site.

    http://indoctrinate-u.com/pages/welcome.html

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  195. eric,

    me show class?

    i was arguing from the point that it is ridiculous to apply negative labels to every member of ANY group. i'm sure there are many people who voted for mccain who honestly believed he could best lead our country and were not racist. i know that there are some people who refused to vote for obama because he is black and they are, in fact, racist.

    i was criticizing you because you accused brian of doing something that you are also guilty of and i think you need to be more mindful of that. not all democrats believe that they should not be held accountable for their losses. not all democrats are pathetic. you were assigning certain labels to democrats in the same way brian did to republicans.

    i made all this clear in my comment.

    so tell me, where is the hole in my reasoning? i don't think you even took the time to identify the conclusion of my argument, so how can you say whether or not my reasoning has a hole?

    i was being objective and you seem to have read something into my statement which wasn't there.

    don't be a fucking prick just because i made an observation. i believe it is you who needs to show some class.

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  196. The difference between Hannity and Limbaugh and those "far left" people that objected to the Bush administration, is the the latter, were CORRECT and the former were MAKING SHIT UP, again, like someone else I know.

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