Those who listen and cooperate will thrive

Aug 15, 2020 | 46 comments

I look at Facebook daily and it is distressing to continually see the labels socialist, radical and now “Marxist” used as epithets, thrown at any idea or activity that does not have its imprimatur from the right. Not a word of discussion about the idea itself.

I am referring specifically to the ideas of full medical care for all, administered by the government; government provided education for all, from pre-school through the bachelor’s degree and including trade schools; a government safety net that provides enough resources to provide a minimal standard of living to those unemployed (for whatever reason) with appropriate social services to assist those who need help to be able to function in our society.

I don’t have any specifics or grand plan to be imposed, believing that the give and take in Congress, state legislatures and local governments, as envisioned in the Constitution,  will do the arduous work to get us to a conclusion, and then another conclusion, and then another, as the slow democratic process wends its way. (I am referring here to the situation in the United States, not in Ecuador.)

Discussing the issues.

I come at this not from any ideological framework but from my basic belief, leavened by my readings over the years, that Jesus was right when he said to love ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies. Another way of saying it is to have compassion for everyone. That way of being means respecting the humanity of the other, truly listening to and understanding their point of view, realizing that they are internally as confused, scared, uncertain, hypocritical and self contradictory as I am. They are not evil incarnate. Although their ways may seem wrong and strange to you they do want a peaceful life.    There are nearly seven billion people on this earth and it is inevitable there will be differences of opinion.

But this marvelous, awesome and mystical planet continues on its way, indifferent to the machinations of its inhabitants. Darwin concluded that the animal species who cooperated with their own kind survived. Those who did not cooperate did not. Political parties, economic systems, nations, come and go. Cultural mores in different countries can be dramatically different. There will be strong differences of opinion as to where to locate the new sewage treatment plant. But over thousands of years humans are understanding that sitting down and working things out is a better solution than going to war, literally or figuratively, to decide which side can dominate the other or whose ego will be satisfied and whose crushed.

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Read Stephen Pinker’s book on the Better Angels of our Nature and, recently, Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman for the details.

And talking and solving does not kill or embitter people, whether one in a personal feud or millions in a world war, thus respecting their right to have their own life. I believe that is, as extremely difficult as it can be, the loving and compassionate way to act.

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