Community and empathy are as inherent in and definitional of human being as body and mind. To be human is to be empathically bound together in communities.
The question I am seeking to answer in these posts is, How do we live more compassionately with each other and all beings? The danger in this question is the tendency, rooted in currently dominant and seemingly commonsense assumptions about “human nature,” to think that compassion and words associated with it—for instance, empathy and love—refer to virtues that we must learn, achieve, or strive to possess. In fact, as sociobiologists and anthropologists, such as Sara Blaffer Hrdy, observe, we human beings are born empathizing or feeling with, each other, including with (com) each other’s suffering (passion). We don’t survive outside of familial and communal meshes of compassionate interactions. The first answer to my question is thus that the foundational practices for becoming more compassionate are identifying, attending to, and affirming the everyday ways we and others are already compassionately interacting.
In this article, in response to three questions, I define democracy, describe the major current threats to democracy in the United States, and discuss how to respond to these threats.
teeming sea of blue
green, lavender, yellow, and
stepping through the rip in the grid
into the conflagration
gravestones of nightmares
disintegrate into dust
in dawn’s gentle light
painting by marlene vine, poem by roy herndon smith in the early falling dusk rain spatters on the screen and glass between dark distortions of branches holding deep mauve to blue-grey emptiness and sorrow blotching into joy in the reverberant clarity of the present blurring into the lost was and the unknown will be
ratty, lumpy shag rugs
of dead leaves cover the ground
the creamy light deepening
Many of the most destructive and counter-factual contemporary Western conspiracy theories are antisemitic because they are new versions of what the gospel scholar Burton L. Mack calls Mark’s apocalyptic “myth of innocence”, otherwise known as the Christian Gospel, that has, since the fourth century ACE, shaped Westerners’ assumptions about reality as a struggle between a wholly innocent, betrayed, and afflicted, but ultimately omnipotent and triumphant, power and the evil, but ultimately doomed, rulers of this world. In this reality, as a Catholic priest once said, “there has to be a betrayer.” And, throughout Western history, not only conspiracy theories, but dominant ideologies of both ruling institutions and revolutionary powers have followed Mark in naming the Jews as the guilty betrayers and cruel persecutors and murderers not only of saviors, but innocence itself.