Empathy is a part of reason. Reason alone will leave us with only a selfish or an unloving product. You see reason to put it in theological language is in a fallen state. Or to put it in a philosophical way reason is limited. We are limited in our capacity to reason by experience, education, and mental capacities. We are dearth of God’s capacity to know and therefore our capacity to reason is limited.
As a parent I have tried to teach my children at least two things. The first is listening makes you smart. If you cannot hear the other you will never receive what they have to offer and how you are being received by others. The art of listening is a skill set that makes your life less complicated and leads to being smarter than others in the room. You do understand their point of view and in this understanding you can craft your argument to them or revise your thinking in lieu of what they are saying. If you are thinking of what you are saying while the other is speaking you may talk right by them. If you cannot listen to the professor, supervisor, friend, therapist, lover, or even your enemy you will be less intelligent. You will be trapped in only that which you can know and not receive from others that which they know.
The other thing I try to instill in my children is that knowledge of the head must be in agreement with the knowledge of the heart. The two ways of knowing should not be exclusive. Most of us agree with this. For example, in the good touch bad touch programs, an emphasis is put on how does it make you feel. Even though it may feel rational to a young intimidated child to allow your family member to touch you we teach if it feels, it is wrong. This is the use of reason and heart to achieve the right thinking. It may feel rationally okay to cut food stamps from folks but most people would cringe at the thought of anyone going hungry. The right will tell you this is a weakness but in reality this is full knowledge not weakness
Blaise Pascal once said ‘The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing’. This means that logic of the head needs to be supplemented with intuition and love. Reason is not the only way of knowing. You see logic is only half of the puzzle. The truth is logic is flawed. It can be biased by our class, culture, race, sex, and sexual orientation. This means that we will always need a system of thinking that has checks and balances to our logic. Listening is one of the checks and balances. If we have not truly heard the other side of the argument we speak without knowing the full picture. Another balance is empathy. If we cannot put ourselves in the other’s place we will not be able to understand the wheres and whys of how they think. This is what is meant by they have ears to hear and eyes to see but they do not understand. And more importantly if we do not have empathy with our reason we are capable of justifying anything in the end. This is what happened in the eugenics movement. It made sense on one level but the decision to sterilize, euthanize, or genocide was made without a balance of listening to others and an attuned empathy.
So knowledge not only requires facts and opinion it must be balanced out with listening and empathy. In today’s discourse we have half-truths presented as the whole truth. We have people who will say with pious tones, as if that added to their rightness pronouncements, of what others should do. Take the immigration debate over DACA. There is no denying that immigration laws have been broken. So we have the pious right proclaim that the law must be upheld. So they have a fact and they will take that fact and beat it to death. They do not want to hear that for all practical purposes the DACA persons are American. They have never known any other country as home or have any place else to go. They have broken the law. They do not want to take into account that the law was not intentionally broken by them. They have broken the law. They do not want to hear stories of families being broken up. This is emotional hijacking of the debate they say. They have broken the law.
This is why you have trouble talking to the far right on this issue. They do not listen because they are convinced they know the truth. And to their way of thinking empathy or love are not allowed to be factored in. So to be quite frank about it, If you do not listen and if you do not balance reason with love you are unreasonable. Reason cannot reach you. You have a smidgen of the truth and you use this iota of information to form your opinion.
And that is where we are at today. Unreasonableness rules the day. We can only hope that one day empathy and listening will return and make us all a little more reasonable.
There is nothing sacrosanct about the Second Amendment. It is not the infallible word of God passed to us by the Founders. MY God it is an amendment which implies you can make another amendment to change it. In fact we did just that with the amendment on prohibition. We wrote one amendment to create prohibition and another amendment to end prohibition. If it ain’t working amend it that was the genius of our Constitution. They knew that certain things in the constitution would from time to time need updating or changing; they were not gods but fallible human beings. Their knowledge of this lack of infallibility was the reason for the checks and balances of our government. Infallible words smacked of divine kings who they knew all too well were often mistaken and even abusive.
Those who say we need the amendment’s right to bear arms in case our government ever becomes oppressive. I know the militia types are tough as nails but be real; you will never have the fire power of our standing military. It is an obsolete ideal to think whatever arms you have in your arsenal can stand up to the military. That is why the founding fathers did not want a standing army. They liked the idea of men coming out of the fields to protect their country when needed. But reality set in and they knew it would take a standing army to resist and not be abused by the European powers.
Hells bells when the colonists arose from the fields and threatened our fledging government as in Shay’s Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion, they were put down rather easily by the standing army. Well sweetheart the military has improved since those days.
To borrow from John Lennon all we are saying is give some gun control a chance. It is abusive when you claim you are defending an inalienable right which was not listed in the inalienable rights document the Declaration of Independence. You numbnuts are like the fundamentalist pastors who defend Bishop Usher’s [theory that] the earth is only six thousand years old despite all the evidence against it. And those who do not support Bishop Usher’s word you say are misguided infidels. I believe in the Constitution because it allowed for its own fallibility; if not for that it would have run its course a long time ago.
AR -15 does not need to be in the hands of any civilian. The majority of us even believe this but we are being held hostage by the tyranny of the minority. I think it may be time to take their guns out of their decrepit hands. We only asked for a bill to limit access to guns for mentally ill persons and as soon as you got the presidency you revoked that bill. Because you could. And now every time a shooting occurs you say piously it’s not the guns it’s the mental health of the shooters. What kind of power tripping sick game are you playing!?
Guns are not on the legislative table you say. I agree they are in the hands of sick individuals shooting the hell out of us. Your solution is hilariously demented; everyone should carry guns and that will stop the killings. So let me get this straight. You create a world where people can have access to AR-15 no matter what their state of mind is and this world you have created now home to children being killed in schools or concert goers being killed while listening to music. So instead of taking guns out of the hands of these individuals you say we all need to be armed. And we all know my pistol will not match the firepower of an AR-15. So I will need to carry an AR-15 to be truly safe. The apostle Paul said men will become inventors of evil but I do not think he could have imagined for a moment how creative you could be.
Hopefully your gig is up’ if not we are all going to have to wear body armor and have AR-15s strapped across our shoulders. No wonder dystopian novels are all the rage these days.
I used to believe in social work. But now it seems that all we do in America is feed the poor and hungry enough to keep them from rioting. I essentially worked for the man. So why make life easier for the poor if it is only covering the festering wound and not healing the wound. So the sweet by and by is what you offer for a better world? With the new tax policies they are seeing how much they have to give to the rest of us so that they can enrich the wealthy.
This is why the corporate tax benefits become permanent and the poor tax rates last three years. This was the buy off and many people will accept the Faustian bargain. The wealthy know it does not take much to quell the poor. They have so little and life is such a struggle that they do not have the energy to resist. Resistance costs jobs, income, health, peace of mind and so on. So it is easy to take the path of least resistance.
Yet systematic change does not come in America without resistance. Power is never given up willingly. The growing income disparity will not be fixed without resistance. What would be the motive for the rich? The rich are motivated to keep the streets free of riots and other forms of resistance. So thus we can always expect a little thrown at us.
The second thing they do is propagandize us with talks of how giving the rich more somehow will benefit us. The economic ‘theory’ is pushed through media and they have tons of money to do such. They also own most of the media which makes the propagandizing even easier, although the economic theories do not make much sense. Companies make more stuff not because the owner has more money but because there is more demand for the product. The demand for the product comes from me and you having more money to spend on more things. So for more jobs to be created we need more money in the masses’ hands. Even Henry Ford realized this when he explained the reason he was paying his employees more was not out of the kindness of his heart but because he needed to create demand for his product. It worked.
Yet constant propaganda clouds the issue. It creates enough doubt in us that we are not sure we know the answer. This helps create inertia because we are left with doubt of what would be the best action. The resistance is delayed. And when it goes very well we vote against our own interest.
One of the reasons we vote against our interest is we are inflamed with other issues that make us willing to compromise on the issues of wealth and poverty. Abortion is such an issue. We are talking about the murder of children, what could be more important than that. Maybe ensuring that children outside the womb have a chance at good quality of life. In fact when the poor are ensured better quality of life for them and their children every study shows there are less abortions. But we continue to insist on the ‘we will regulate morality approach’ instead of let us deal with the income inequality issue.
Finally, if you choose to resist you will pay a price. Ask Rosa Parks. When she chose to resist she lost her job and no one else would hire her for a long time. She was constantly receiving phone call threats, and was shunned from the white community and even some in the black community who thought she was putting everyone at risk. This caused her mental and physical health to deteriorate. She became poorer, lost her peace of mind, and suffered ailments that she would have never experienced if she had only gone to the back of the bus. This is not only her story but the story of many who resisted.
Meanwhile the rich my not even be there such as Andrew Carnegie who was not even in the country during the notorious Homewood Strike. He was in Europe accepting accolades for his philanthropy and good heartedness. The rich can cushion themselves from the crises.
Do not worry homeless shelters, group homes, employment services are all good. But it is not the resistance. The Resistance is challenging at the risk of everything you have to change a system that allows people to become so broken to begin with.