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This paper is an evolving examination of issues around, and responses to, the challenge or improving the lives of and caring for elders, on the emotional, mental, physical, practical, spiritual levels.
During these dark days of worsening refugee crises, 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.
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?
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.
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?