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Just Because We’re Natural Born Killers Does Not Mean We Are Not Good People

8:10 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

 

A caricature of George W. Bush as a chimpanzee in the jungle, holding scraps of the US

Some primates are still unredeemable.

The significance of the recent scientific study published in Nature, which found that chimpanzees are natural-born killers, is that killing has a genetic basis. They did not learn that behavior from humans or choose to be that way. They are genetically predisposed to kill because, via natural selection, that predisposition has resulted in a competitive advantage for scarce resources and reproduction compared to chimpanzees that do not have that predisposition.

We need only look to our own culture and past to realize that we have the same genetic predisposition.

The Boston Globe reports:

It can be tempting to take a dark view of the violent behavior of chimpanzees, but Joan Silk, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, said discovering the origins of human behaviors in other animals is not the same as learning our destiny.

‘How do animals resolve conflict is interesting,’ Silk said. ‘How do animals find out ways to cooperate? Those are general principles from which we can learn a lot, but it doesn’t mean we’re expecting them to be the same across species. I study baboons, and I love them dearly, but they do all kinds of things I think are sort of uncivilized. If they were my kids, I’d be very distressed.’

We are finally beginning to understand that human behavior has a genetic basis. That is, we are predisposed to act in certain ways, despite our race, ethnicity, language and culture.

A predisposition to kill when vital resources are scarce is a competitive advantage. In times of plenty, it’s a competitive disadvantage.

Empathy is a competitive advantage during times of scarcity because survival is enhanced by living in a peer-to-peer cooperative relationship with others.

Individuals cannot long survive unless they belong to a group and groups cannot survive without the informed consent and cooperation of their individual members.

Mutual respect and dignity promote harmony and cooperation in times of scarcity and plenty.

Greed and exploitation of others never do. They promote discord and ultimately cause chaos.

This is why living the Golden Rule and democracy are a better model for living than a corporation that exploits other people and the environment for profit and has no accountability for the harm it causes.

Survival of the fittest is not a law. It’s only a prediction of the outcome of a fight.

Read the rest of this entry →

Greed is a false god

2:49 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Today is Easter Sunday.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, resurrection is an ancient myth that was old before humans invented writing. The Ancient Egyptian story of the resurrection of Osiris dates back to a time long before Menes unified the Two Lands creating the fabled Old Kingdom of Egypt in approximately 3,000 BC.

Jesus was a rabbi and the core principle of his teachings is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived and died before Jesus was born, expressed the Golden Rule:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and incompatible with the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, greed is the so-called invisible hand that regulates the free market and, according to neoliberals, the only acceptable form of regulation. Not only is unrestricted greed an acceptable business plan, it has become the only acceptable business plan. Thus, has greed been accorded godlike status.

And we wonder why the world is so messed up.

On this day that we celebrate resurrection and rebirth, we would do well to recommit ourselves to living the Golden Rule. Believing it is not enough. Breath it. Live it. Become it, now.

Rabbi Hillel also said,

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

We are in this together.

Greed is not a path to prosperity. It is a path to corruption, exploitation, enslavement and chaos.

We all know know it.

Now let’s do something about it.

Ma’at and the Golden Rule

12:21 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the universe emerged from chaos. They perceived an enduring harmony and order to it that they regarded as sacred and necessary to sustain. They believed it was created and maintained by a powerful female spiritual force or goddess whom they called Ma’at. In their view, she kept discord and chaos at bay by creating order out of disorder thereby allowing them to live in peace, prosper and be happy. They regarded this ordering principle or Ma’at to be so important that they based their code of moral and ethical conduct on it believing that Ma’at required speaking the truth and treating others with honor and respect in all matters.

Ma’at is the earliest known version of the Golden Rule. As an expression of divine wisdom, Ma’at is reminiscent of St. Thomas Aquinas’s notion of natural or moral law. For example, he believed that the “standards of morality are in some sense derived from, or entailed by, the nature of the world and the nature of human beings.” Ma’at’s sacred status as a fundamental guiding principle that had to be honored in all things created an emphasis on using law to resolve disputes in a manner consistent with Ma’at, or the spirit of the law. Their emphasis on resolving disputes in a fair and equitable manner stands out in marked contrast to the rote application of the most relevant rule in a lengthy and detailed list of rules.

Ma’at was depicted on the walls of temples and tombs performing one of her most sacred duties at the Weighing of the Heart ceremony in the Hall of Two Truths in the Duat, or Egyptian underworld. She is depicted as a young woman holding a scepter with one hand, carrying an ankh with the other, and wearing an ostrich feather tucked into her headband. Known as the feather of truth, she would remove it from her headband and place it on one plate of a scale to counterbalance the weight of a recently departed person’s heart, symbolizing the soul. If the soul were lighter than the feather, it would achieve immortality and accompany Osiris to his home in the constellation of Orion and be reborn as a star. If the soul outweighed the feather, it would achieve eternal restlessness after dying a second time devoured by Amit, depicted as a female demon with a body part lion, hippopotamus, and crocodile.

During the Old Kingdom, the pharaoh’s primary role was to maintain Ma’at in society. Known as the Lord of Ma’at, he was said to decree with his mouth the Ma’at in his heart. This was an extremely important responsibility because the natural order and cosmic harmony would be disturbed, if someone violated Ma’at and pharaoh failed to restore it by making sure that justice was done, or if pharaoh violated Ma’at by his own conduct. Eerily similar to what we modern humans call the butterfly effect, the Ancient Egyptians believed that such disruptions would unleash ever more unpredictable and serious consequences reverberating throughout the Two Lands, including droughts, floods, pestilence, starvation, blindness, epidemics of disease, and accidents resulting in serious injury or death.

Ma’at prevailed over chaos for at least a thousand years beginning no later than the time that Menes unified the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt in approximately 3,000 BCE until the fabled Old Kingdom passed into history at the end of the 6th Dynasty in approximately 2186 BCE with the death of Pharaoh Pepi II. He died at the age of 92 outliving all of his heirs. His death also marked the beginning of the First Intermediate Period, a time of declining central authority and civil war between the rulers of various powerful city states within the Egyptian empire. Eleventh Dynasty Pharaoh Mentuhotep II of Thebes eventually restored Ma’at when he reunited Egypt in 2025 BCE by seizing Herakleopolis, the capitol city of the rival 10th Dynasty. This marked the beginning of the Middle Kingdom and the shift of power from Memphis (modern day Cairo) to Thebes.

I believe our criminal justice system together with our economy and society is degenerating and falling apart. I propose for consideration and discussion the following idea:

We have lost our way because too many of us have discarded Ma’at and the Golden Rule as the fundamental ordering principle guiding our lives and replaced it with Greed.

Rabbi Hillel’s Three Questions: What Did He Mean?

10:25 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.

I have always been drawn to the deeper questions in life.

I spent quite a bit of my life confronting those questions on a daily basis while defending clients charged with death penalty offenses.

I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. I believe that, as long as we remain alive, we have an opportunity for redemption, no matter what we have done.

As we tread water waiting for Judge Lester’s decision on Friday regarding the defense motion to disqualify, I have taken the opportunity to establish some guidelines and rules for the site.

To further set the tone for a new way in the blogosphere to learn about law and grow in wisdom together, I decided to provoke some philosophical thought and discussion regarding Rabbi Hillel’s famous three questions. Rabbi Hillel Wikipedia states:

Hillel (הלל) (born Babylon traditionally c.110 BCE, died 10 CE[1] in Jerusalem) was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Renowned within Judaism as a sage and scholar, he was the founder of the House of Hillel school for Tannaïm (Sages of the Mishnah) and the founder of a dynasty of Sages who stood at the head of the Jews living in the land of Israel until roughly the fifth century of the Christian Era.

He is known for many things, including this expression of the Golden Rule:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

The man had a way of cutting through the bullshit and getting to the essence of things.

I do not mention him for any religious purpose. Instead, I mention him as a sage and, specifically, for the following three questions he asked his students.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself, who am I?

If not now, when?

What are your thoughts?

Seven Deadly Sins

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Wrath

by annalise.ellen creative commons @ flickr

The seven deadly sins are:

1. Wrath,

2. Greed,

3. Lust,

4. Sloth,

5. Envy,

6. Gluttony, and

7. Pride.

I doubt that there is an adult alive today who has not been gripped at least once by each of these demons, but I will leave that subject for another time.

Today, I want to share my thoughts with you regarding our nation, its relationship with these demons, and what will become of it if we do not act.

Piercing the veil of propaganda, I see our federal government captured and controlled by the too-big-to-fail banks, multi-national corporations that privatize profits and socialize losses, a paranoid national intelligence network that invades everyone’s privacy, and the military industrial complex. Our nation is war and war is big business.

Like moths cocooned alive in a spider’s web powerless to resist a slow agonizing death as its insides are slowly sucked out, we the people have been reduced to mere tax revenue units expected to pay for endless war and cover all of the financial-sector losses from the TBTF banks gambling in the world casino. Meanwhile, the private sector regards us as nothing more than interchangeable minimum-wage labor units to be exploited to the fullest extent possible without enjoying any benefits.

Our nation is known by all people of the world for its all-consuming quest for world empire via never ending war to seize valuable diminishing natural resources. Greed, which is Number 2 on the list of deadly sins, is god. Neoliberal economics is its Bible and nobody talks about the Golden Rule.

I see a nation seized by wrath against people with brown skin and illegal immigrants.

I see a nation seized by lust for natural resources that belong to others.

I see a slothful nation unwilling to change and work on developing renewable forms of energy.

I see a nation seized by envy for world empire.

I see a nation seized by the gluttony of wanting it all.

I see a nation seized by the false pride of American exceptionalism.

As I look ahead at the future, I see the ship of state capsized at sea by the seven deadly sins.

I see no other possible outcome unless we heal ourselves, take back our government, and kick the corporations out of the Temple.

Although the path to redemption and illumination will be long and difficult, we know where to find it because others have led the way and marked it for us. Remember always that one must die to be reborn and the seven deadly sins can be conquered by the seven virtues.

1. Wrath is conquered by Peace;

2. Greed is conquered by Generosity;

3. Lust is conquered by Purity of Intent;

4. Sloth is conquered by Courage and Effort;

5. Envy is conquered by Compassion for oneself and others;

6. Gluttony is conquered by Temperance; and

7. Pride is conquered by Humility.

Never forget the Golden Rule.

What do you see?

Cross posted from my blog.

Survival of the Wisest

10:48 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Empathy is the basis for true morality.

Empathy is the basis for true morality
by aerie under flickr Creative Commons

Randian neoliberals, as in Ayn Rand, believe in competition and social darwinism. They claim that human life is like a vast jungle and they have adopted “survival of the fittest,” formerly known as the law of the jungle, as the guiding principle of their lives.

They adopted Grover Nordquist’s advice to privatize government as much as possible and drown what little remains of it “in a bathtub” abolishing all laws, regulations, and regulatory oversight.

They claim they want to create the free marketplace that Adam Smith wrote about in the Wealth of Nations; a mystical place controlled by the “invisible hand” of self-interest that they declare to be maximizing short-term profits.

They have elevated greed to the status of not just any god, but the god of gods. That their interpretation ignores Adam Smith’s warning that the marketplace must be regulated to protect competition from the monopolies that inevitably will develop in a truly free marketplace is no trivial matter.

They have committed an egregious sin by creating a philosophy to justify stealing from others that they put together with disparate elements of philosophy, science, economics, and religion as though selecting from different columns on a Chinese menu to feed their ravenous greed.

Survival of the fittest is not a law; it is a description of what happens when a hungry apex predator hunts, kills, and consumes its prey. If there were no other laws at work after approximately 4 billion years of evolution, only apex predators would exist, and possibly none of them either as they would have extinguished themselves by cannibalism.

Natural selection is an evolutionary process that weeds out unsuccessful genetic adaptations. Natural selection is not survival of the fittest.

In a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, research scientists at the University of Chicago reported that lab rats can show empathy. Their experiment demonstrated that free rats will work tirelessly to free caged rats. Even when presented with chocolate chips, a free rat will continue to labor on freeing the caged rat until successful. Then they share and consume the chocolate.

While survival of the fittest may dictate the outcome in most battles between a hungry predator and its prey, unless its prey outsmarts it or it is fortunate to escape, empathy occupies a far more important role in determining whether a species survives. Empathy leads to survival of the wisest and validates the age old maxim that the meek shall inherit the Earth.

Empathy is the basis of the Golden Rule.

Randian neoliberalism is junk science at its worst and should be universally discredited and the legacy of its practitioners condemned to a mere footnote in the sorry history of human greed.

Happy holidays.

Namaste

Cross posted from my blog at http://masonbennu.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/survival-of-the-wisest/

Freedom Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

2:11 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

(h/t to Wendy Davis for her idea to use Janis Joplin’s outstanding version of Me and Bobby McGee by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster)

Crane-Station and I went scrappin’ this Sunday morning. We pulled up and parked next to a longbox in a small neighborhood shopping center where several men were tearing down the interior of a former store, now shuttered. The longbox was almost full of ripped out drywall, heating and cooling ducts, and lots of metal, most of it buried. We were going to have to work hard to liberate it.

Mason investigates.

Mason Investigates Looking For Clues

Drywall on Metal

Mason Finds Clues

We asked the men if we could get in the longbox and take the metal. The apparent foreman said, “Sure, we’ve been letting scrappers take it. Makes our job easier. Help yourself.”
So, we did.

Our first find was a section of chain-link fencing with three posts partially encased in concrete footings. As we struggled to lift the posts and the fencing out of the longbox, one of the men suddenly appeared with an electric band saw and cut the posts above the footings.

“This ought to make it easier,” he said.

He was right.

About an hour later when the temperature started heating up and we were pouring sweat trying to free a large heating duct, he suddenly peaked over the top of the longbox.

“Thought you might be getting thirsty, so I brought you some water.”

He produced two bottles of chilled water that we gratefully accepted.

That was the sweetest water we have tasted in a long time.

The crew stopped and said goodbye a little later.

He was a stranger and did not have to do anything to help us.

I have given up everything of value that I had and now that I have nothing, I find that I have everything I need.

I love the freedom that comes from not having stuff.

I enjoy the peace of not wanting.

Life is about being a part of something bigger, not about winning or losing a competition.

Life is about knowing who you are in relation to the One and to the universe the One created.

Life is about knowing your fundamental values and principles and living those values and principles every day.

Life is about respecting, protecting, and healing Gaia and all that she is.

Life is about empathizing and caring about others.

Life is about lending a hand.

The load

The load in the back of our truck.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe because it does not take anything from others or diminish them in any respect. Unconditional love is giving for the sake of giving without any expectation of receiving anything in return.

Selfishness, on the other hand, is a black hole that gathers everything unto itself and never gives away anything without strings attached. Selfishness creates resentment and a desire to get even or hurt others.

Love creates a desire to be of service to others and to love others. It creates joy and inspires love in return. Like ripples on the surface of a pond, it will travel to the end of the universe and back.

Selfishness can never triumph completely over love because the joy and happiness of loving and being loved unconditionally by others always surpasses the misery and loneliness that selfishness invariably produces.

Free yourself from the obligations of property and the expectations of others.

Namaste

In the same way when you see a flower in a field, it’s really the whole field that is flowering because the flower could not exist in that particular place without the special surroundings in the field that it has. You only find flowers in surroundings that will support them. So, in the same way you only find human beings on a planet of this kind with an atmosphere of this kind, with a temperature of this kind supplied by a convenient neighboring star.

Alan Watts

(h/t to Edger for providing the Alan Watts video where I got the quote)

Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

The Power of Myths and Archetypes

10:14 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Harry Callahan says, “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Author’s Note: This is another chapter that I inadvertently omitted from Namaste: If Not Now, When? I include it here because any honest recapitulation of our nation’s errors and omissions must necessarily include an analysis of the destructive myths and archetypes that have contributed to our national self-aggrandizement and obnoxious sense of entitlement. That behavior needs to stop, if we are to coexist in peace and harmony with other nations.

All of the previous chapters that have been presented here are collected in my Diaries and at my blog.

A myth is “a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society.” Myths are not necessarily limited to the past; they can and do frame and inform us about the present. Consider, for example, American exceptionalism. The Reverend John Winthrop told the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts Bay, Read the rest of this entry →

Golden Rule As A Basis For Revolution: Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 27

8:10 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here in my Diaries or at my blog.

I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 27

The Golden Rule As A Basis For Revolution

We the people of the world are under relentless attack by the United States of America. I say we the people of the world, as opposed to just the United States, because the United States Government is the enemy of all of the people of the world, not just us.

If we are to stop the United States Government, and we are uniquely positioned to do so because we literally live in the belly of the beast, we are going to need the assistance of all of the people in the world. We are all in this together: We are one planet and one people.

For the first time in history, we the people have a realistic chance to reach across boundaries and bridge the chasms of language, religion, and culture that have separated us since we were a small tribe in South Africa approximately 200,000 years ago and moved away to explore and settle the world. We know from the available mitochondrial DNA evidence, that each one of us is descended from a common maternal ancestor, whom we call Eve.

Brothers and sisters, now is the time for us to take a giant leap forward together and claim our heritage as the Keepers of the Flame.

The United States Government has been reduced to a corrupt shell by bankster billions, privatization, and the pay-to-play game. The government can neither afford to fund the insane goal of imperial hegemony through never-ending war, nor fund the explosive growth of the delusional paranoid surveillance empire without destroying itself.

There is no reason for the United States to be at war against anyone, foreign or domestic; and the terrorists it so desperately claims to fear are people like us who retaliate when agents of the United States Government slaughter their innocent brothers and sisters with drones for money.

The United States is a rogue nation committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a daily basis. Its conduct is unlawful, morally repugnant, and intolerable. Those who do not speak out and resist its vile and atrocious behavior with every fiber of their being are complicit and deserve world condemnation.

There is no middle ground.

There is no third way.

Compromise is not an option.

Whether we like it or not, we are responsible for what our government does.

We are warriors and warriors do not run away from responsibility.

There is no reason for the United States not to restore Ma’at and conduct its affairs with its citizens, other governments and the rest of the people in the world in a civil and respectful manner according to the Golden Rule. Terrorism would cease to exist, if it did.

In Chapter 6, entitled Golden Rule Applications, I wrote:

If we tweak our hypothetical relationship between two emotionally healthy and well adjusted adults, however, and make one person an addict, treating that person the way they want to be treated by supplying them with alcohol, for example, enables and reinforces the addiction to the everlasting sorrow of both people and their relationship. Plug in narcissist or any other major character disorder, including the discovery that your darling “Lovey” is a serial killer or even worse, President of the United States, and you will readily make the connection. This type of situation may be resolved by a negative expression of the rule; that is, refraining from doing something to another person (enabling the addiction) because you would want him or her to refrain from enabling your own addiction. Under either formulation of the rule, the action taken or avoided is driven by the desire to be of service to another as opposed to acting selfishly. One must, of course, be ever vigilant to the infinite number of ways in which a selfish outcome can be disguised by an ingenious mind as acting in the best interest of another person or the common good.

As followers of the Golden Rule, we must refrain from supporting and enabling the money-addicted people who run our government because we would want them to refrain from enabling our own addictions.

We are in this together. Whosoever harms one of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, or somewhere else, harms us.

To live up to our duties and responsibilities to each other under the Golden Rule, we must protect ourselves and our brothers and sisters around the world who are being harmed by our government.

This is the best of times and the worst of times.

We all know why it is the worst, so I need not explain it further.

We need to open our eyes to recognize the golden opportunity we have to change the world forever for the better.

We will change it because we are warriors, our cause is just, and we will never give up.

If not now, when?

Namaste.

Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 6 Golden Rule Applications

9:09 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Chapter 6

Golden Rule Applications

Pharaoh Nebkaure ruled in favor of Khun-Inpu even though he was an outsider, a mere peasant who had technically trespassed on land that belonged to a rich and influential nobleman and his donkey had trampled the nobleman’s wheat and eaten his grain. Despite Khun-Inpu’s humble and foreign background, pharaoh recognized that he was an honorable man with good intentions who was forced into trespassing on the nobleman’s land by the foreman who then used the trespass as a justification to assault Khun-Inpu and steal his donkey and his goods. As the Lord of Ma’at, who was said to decree with his mouth the Ma’at in his heart, pharaoh had little choice but to rule in Khun-Inpu’s favor, even though he was loathe to do so and Khun-Inpu had to respectfully remind him of his responsibilities eight times and threaten to take his own life to seek justice in the land of the dead to get him to act.

Can anyone imagine President Obama ruling in favor of Khun-Inpu in any matter? Or Chief Justice Roberts and justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court? How about your local circuit court or superior court judges? I didn’t think so.

One could argue that President Obama’s decision to look forward and not backward is an example of applying the Golden Rule because his decision accurately reflects how he would like to be treated by his successor in office for his war crimes for waging aggressive war, using drones to slaughter innocent people, and condoning the use of rendition and torture. However, Ma’at does not permit the Golden Rule to be twisted and perverted to reach and justify an unfair and unjust result. Nemti-Nakht learned that lesson the hard way.

War is justifiable only in self-defense. The war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression because Afghanistan did not invade the United States and had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. The United States cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by killing innocent Afghans to provoke them to attack U.S. soldiers who invaded and occupied their land without consent.

Applying the Golden Rule in more mundane circumstances has proven to be difficult at times. Scholars have engaged in endless discussions and written many books about it. Consider, for example, the vexing relationship phenomenon commonly referred to as men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The answer to this predicament, of course, is to realize that your partner might not want to be treated the same way you would like to be treated in a given situation, so you ask before you act, or do a little detective work first. This behavioral adjustment actually affirms the rule because it respects the other person’s right to be different, which is mutually beneficial and generally beneficial to the relationship.

If we tweak our hypothetical relationship between two emotionally healthy and well adjusted adults, however, and make one person an addict, treating that person the way they want to be treated by supplying them with alcohol, for example, enables and reinforces the addiction to the everlasting sorrow of both people and their relationship. Plug in narcissist or any other major character disorder, including the discovery that your darling “Lovey” is a serial killer or even worse, President of the United States, and you will readily make the connection. This type of situation may be resolved by a negative expression of the rule; that is, refraining from doing something to another person (enabling the addiction) because you would want him or her to refrain from enabling your own addiction. Under either formulation of the rule, the action taken or avoided is driven by the desire to be of service to another as opposed to acting selfishly. One must, of course, be ever vigilant to the infinite number of ways in which a selfish outcome can be disguised by an ingenious mind as acting in the best interest of another person or the common good.

Free market economics, globalization, and the trickle-down theory are examples of acting selfishly supposedly for the benefit of the many, but there is no evidence to support such a belief. For example, the disparity in income between rich and poor in the United States is greater today than it has been since before the Great Depression that began in 1929. Free market economics, globalization, tax breaks for the rich, and the trickle-down theory of economics have made the rich richer and destroyed the middle class in the United States. Greed is not good for anyone and the Gentle One who warned that it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven knew that greed destroys human beings. He wanted people to strive to be spiritually rich, not monetarily rich.

Imagine how much better this world would be if everyone in it honored the goddess Ma’at, others, and themselves by practicing the spirit of the Golden Rule. As Rabbi Hillel said, “That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Christians and Muslims can substitute the New Testament or the Koran for the Torah; the meaning is the same.

The catastrophic problems we face today are the natural and probable consequence of a conscious awareness focused on constructing a self-important identity out of self-differentiation. To say that I am not “X,” however, does little to satisfy my craving to know who I am. It does, however, feed my desire to feel special, and the more special I feel the more unique I become. Satisfaction is missing, however, because now that I have convinced myself that I am unique, I feel entitled to be acknowledged as unique without realizing that I have birthed an addiction that I must continue to feed to avoid an identity crisis. Yet, I need an identity crisis, perhaps many, to reach the Aha Moment when I finally accept that my search for identity through a process of self-differentiation from others necessarily leads to selfishness, isolation, and existential dread because my uniqueness invariably disappears without the existence, attention, and agreement of others to sustain it. Albert Einstein said,

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

In what sense do I exist, if not in relation to something else?

Am I not who I am because I am a part of the whole?

And if I am part of the whole, am I not part of you and you part of me?

How can this not be true of all humanity?

When we harm others, do we not harm and diminish ourselves?

How can this not be true of all life?

If it is true of all life, how can it not be true of all spirit?

Is this not the essence of the Golden Rule?

As above, so below.

Are we humans not who we are because we are a part of the whole and does not the whole include our mother, Gaia, and is she not part of all that exists beyond her?

Are we not confronted today by dreadful circumstances of our own making that are forcing us to evolve to a higher level of consciousness in which we define ourselves holistically, accept responsibility individually and collectively for creating the miseries that plague us, pledge to once and for all destroy the Tower of Babble dissolving the boundaries that separate us, and place the good of the many above the good of the few?

We must learn to move beyond merely tolerating others to trusting others as we would trust ourselves. This is the principle of mutuality that is central to the Golden Rule. Although this will prove to be difficult, keep in mind that the prophet Muhammad said, “Do good to those who are worthy of it and to those who are not; if he is a good man, then because he is good, and if he is not, then because you are.”

As in the Sufi parable of the three blind men who each describe an elephant differently because their descriptions are based on touching different part of its body, we must accept and recognize that the One is more than the sum of its many parts. There are many paths to the One and we should respect all of them. As Helen Keller said, “I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”

Let us see ourselves as coequal Ambassadors of the One for whom nationalism, patriotism, the vast array of the rest of the isms, and the formal structure of religion no longer matter. We revere all that exists, as it is as much a part of us as we are a part of it. We celebrate our existence and pledge to heal, protect, and preserve Gaia for she is part of us, our mother, our home, and Garden of Eden.

As T.S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Cross-Posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue