Thursday, September 15, 2005

Empathy and Compassion

Yesterday I read a post on the Martian Anthropologist about empathy. He defines empathy and talks about how we see empaths as people in Science Fiction movies understanding the feelings of others. Someone commenting on this post said that it's a good thing. Who could live if we felt the pain of everyone else?

It's a good question, that. However, if we can't ever feel the pain of another, how can we live? We do selectively turn off our ability to empathize with another because we are often overwhelmed. In crisis, people often do get overwhelmed and then suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, survivor guilt and a host of other problems when they go through a major trauma of the scale, say, the people in New Orleans are going through. They do empathize with the others in their situation. People watching, people helping and people sending money are also often overwhelmed because they too can see the trauma.

I am frustrated by the posts of people who want to inflame those who do empathize by saying that these people in New Orleans should have done something. They hide their ability to empathize and feel that pain in their outrage and anger that people could end up in a situation like that. If someone else can get in a situation like that, maybe they aren't that safe. That's scary and they don't want to be scared, so they react in anger and provoke anger from others.

If we do that too often, hiding our empathy behind our anger or our ignorance, we loose the ability to feel the pain of others. If we can't empathize with another, it is much harder to be compassionate and to treat others as we would want to be treated. As a country, as a world full of humans we need to embrace our ability to feel pain and to hurt, not only for ourselves but for others.

To be human, we must be able to feel pain. We don't need to seek it out as a punishment, but when it comes our way, we need to be let ourselves feel it and move on. We need to share those moments when others feel pain and recognize it for what it is. We must have empathy. In having empathy, we cultivate compassion.

Thinking about the Dalai Lama

I'm thinking about the Dalai Lama. I think about him when I read my favorite political blogs, who agitate for us to make major changes. I think about him when I am tempted to make more political entries in my blog. I am trying to limit my political commentary to linking to my favorite sites as this isn't really a political blog, per se. It's about creating peace, both inside ourselves and in the world.

I think about the Dalai Lama. He was a world leader. His country is gone and his culture is being plundered. Yet through whatever media you see him, there is a serentiy about his nature. I am awed that this man who has lost everything can write a book titled The Art of Happiness.

It's not a book about the happiness as we think of happiness. For this man, I think the art comes from having peace inside the self. He is at peace. I refer anyone really wishing to pursue a greater self peace to start reading. It's not really a book on Buddhism, but a book for everyone to start finding greater peace from the inside.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Thinking outside the box

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get stuck and are sure there is not a solution but if we keep looking at the problem from different angles, sometimes we can find one.

I find it frustrating to work with on my mac. It's very slow on Netscape and crashes Safari and I can't even log on on the old mac version of IE. I was working on netscape but got tired of the whole issue of waiting and waiting for it to come up.

My outside the box solution? Virtual PC and IE from there. It's not an ideal situation. V PC is slow and I feel more at risk for virus problems. However I can get here and I can post photos on my other blog and it doesn't take forever for the blog to get republished. Yeah, it's not perfect but it's a better solution than what I had before.

Sometimes the solution is there but we have lots of reasons why it can't be used so we don't try it. Sometimes we need to open our minds and move on. I'll keep looking for a mac platform that works better with blogger (maybe firefox?) but for now this is the best solution. That's another piece--we should always remember that decisions are made at a specific time and can always be changed as we learn new things. Getting ourselves locked into a certain way of doing things can often be part of the problem.

Let's go out and try and be creative, okay?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quotation from the Dalai Lama

Here is a quotation from the Dalai Lama:

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cats and Peace

I have just gotten another cat. Normally I'd save such a post for my blog on my cats but this behavioral thing seems to make a point on creating peacefulness within ourselves.

This cat is very frightened. She's an adult. It took her the better part of two days to even eat. She still doesn't want anything to do with me. I admit, this is a bit of a let down for me as cats always like me, even if they hate everyone! However she is afraid and this has been a big change for her.

The part that I feel is important to note is that I've had other cats who were frightened of everything in new surroundings. I tend to adopt adult cats who need homes. It's after a week or two weeks (depending on the cat. This is a Siamese, so I'm allowing a month) they are fine. They are home. They've forgotten the trauma that brought them and they are home, demanding what they demand and being themselves. Gone are the shrinking violets. It's also interesting to me that there is typically very little settling in. It's not that they start by taking small steps. It's like they take one step, realize it's okay and then suddenly they're there.

I'm not sure that I'm advocating taking such action in all parts of our lives, but the part I want to point out is that when a cat let's it go, they let it go. Cats hold on to things for awhile, but when they are ready, they really let it go. It's over. We could all learn a bit from this.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How Can We Change?

I have to admit to being intrigued by the latest polical blogs calling for change. We do need change. There is a huge division between the rich people who have and the poor who don't have. Do we need to do it in hatred or in the understanding that our dissatisfaction means that fundamental things need to change.

There are huge numbers of people unhappy with the way the United States is being run. If we run off and say we need to toss everything, get rid of this person and that person, we don't make real change, but merely put in place the government that serves us and our needs for the moment. We need some sort of long term well thought out change. I don't have the answers to what that looks like and what looks good to me may not look good to someone else.

However as we find ourselves in places of dissatisfaction, we need to look at why we are outraged or why we are bothered by what is happening. What exactly does need to change. How can we speak out peacefully to find commonalities with others who want to make those changes? If we can all come together and find what it is we really want instead of just saying that the other side is wrong to want what they want, then maybe we can actually effect some real change.