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Compassion

On Others

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For me the purpose of life is to know other people…is to discover what life is. Who inhabits the world? What is it to be human? What can I give to the world which it doesn’t have…a gift for tolerating my presence in this world..…and unless I know the people, I can’t know what it does not have - Theodore Zeldin

Imagine balancing self-interest and caring for others. If this is possible, then:

(1) What is the approximate balance between the two today - in individuals, organisations and societies? How much time do we really spend thinking about and then acting on other people's needs?

What's Happening? - Compassion

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"Nobody foresaw the world shortage of respect"1, so compassion and empathy are perhaps our best responses to the growing realisation that even as we watch each other post and connect and feed and comment and tweet, what goes on in other people's heads is becoming ever more puzzling.

The term "compassion" has fallen out of touch with reality, argued journalist Krista Tippett, who deconstructs the meaning of compassion through stories, and proposes a new definition, linking it with kindness, "curiosity without assumptions", empathy, forgiveness, beauty, generosity and presence.

What's Happening? - EDGs: Caring for Elders

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This paper is a an evolving examination of issues around, and responses to, the challenge or caring for elders, on the emotional, mental, physical, practical, spiritual levels.

 

TRENDS

In a growing number of countries, such as England, government-funded care for older people is being increasingly rationed, leaving growing numbers to fend for themselves.

 

GOOD PRACTICES

Deloitte announced that it will offer up to 16 weeks of fully paid leave for a wide range of caregiving, including maternity and paternity leave, eldercare and aid for other sick family members or partners. The policy is a recognition that caregiving isn’t limited to new parents, but affects a far broader class of employees.

On Altruism

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Imagining, while still healthy, donating organs to total strangers without expecting anything in return. The BBC nterviewed a man who did just this after his wife committed suicide.

She had been suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis, and when the pain and suffering became too much for her to bear, she took her own life, leading him to a suspended prison sentence - for failing to stop her - and ultimately to the decision to help others to live by doing as much as he possibly could - by giving away one of his kidneys and part of his liver, and then waiting to become a bone marrow donor.

On Projections

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Imagining not allowing our "projections" to hold us back, as argued in this thoughtful piece? The idea that we are often very wrong in the assumptions we make about what other people are thinking and feeling strikes a chord. Is there a word for "false empathy" - i.e. for trying to put ourself into the other's shoes, but coming to completely wrong conclusions? Maybe we'd benefit from "cognitive reframing".

So often we seem to impute to others far worse feelings and motives than we subsequently learn were really there, and often isn't the truth that the other person was focused on his/her own problems and, far than condemning us, was probably not thinking about us at all? Even if/when they were, what harm does it really do us?

On Secrets

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You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inspired by others' little secret acts of kindness, PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.

On Xenophilia

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During these dark days of worsening refugee crisis, can we still imagine reaching a state of "xenophilia"...overcoming our "homophily", i.e. the love of that which is like us, and reaching the love of that which is different?

Indeed, if we're ever going to care enough about conflict, genocide, poverty, hunger etc. enough to act on them properly, then we need to try much harder to avoid conflict with people we might not yet fully understand.

 

 

On Jane Goodall

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it" - Robert Heinlein

Jane Goodall's Chimp Greeting from The Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

As one of reportedly fewer than 10 people ever to be invited to study for a PhD at Cambridge without a prior undergraduate degree, Jane Goodall was promptly told by "experts" there that all her field work on chimpanzee behaviour was wrong, and that she should not anthropomorphise them with names, still less assign them thoughts, personalities and emotions.

Today, we know that she was right and they were wrong.

On Humanity

The Royal Society of Arts gathered a high-profile panel of speakers to explore the hidden agendas behind our values and attitudes toward the place of ‘the human’ in today’s societies, and debate what must now be a key issue for the 21st century.