Articles

Tiniest Teachers offer the Greatest Lesson

By Tim Wolcott
(April 2017)

It took me by surprise.  I couldn’t see the value of the forest due to the matter of the trees.

Recently I’ve been getting compassion fatigue taking a nursing home resident to church with me.  I’ve been feeling helpful, and she would always voice her gratitude as we left services, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was her own worst enemy and that I was complicit in her demise.  Jane (not her real name) is morbidly obese and would spend her time during the after-service social hour having numerous helpings of cakes, cookies and bagels with extra cream cheese.  I felt pained from this dilemma until reading Alain De Botton’s latest novel, called The Course of Love.

I had been reading it to better understand the dynamics of spousal relationships.  Mr. De Botton is an expert on emotional intelligence.  His global organization, www.theschooloflife.com, offers great resources and a unique vision of education.  Little did I anticipate how the section on Children, specifically the chapter on “Love Lessons” would clarify my mind and unweigh my heart.

Our dominant culture emphasizes that love, especially Romantic, is a give and take affair, quid pro quo.  Our individualistic culture doesn’t acknowledge contentment with being at someone’s call.  Mr. De Botton believes that this particular view of love tends to limit our compassion and frustrate our rational minds.   Very young children through their exhausting dependence, egoism and vulnerability offer a different vision of loving to adults who are ready to listen.  This kind of love in not based on reciprocity.  Its “true goal is nothing less than the transcendence of oneself for the sake of another”.

Children teach us that genuine love is a kind of service.  What’s so consequential is that most of us readily accept this service when it pertains to the very young, but ignore its legitimacy when it concerns an adult in need.  I was surprised when I realized why my innate compassion for children hadn’t been activated toward Jane. She certainly needed my help, and I should have definitely valued the love that service to her offered me.

Children tutor us in a love based not on admiration for strength, but on compassion for weakness.  Moreover, the child teaches the adult that service (love) “should involve an attempt to interpret with maximal generosity what might be going on beneath the surface of difficult and unappealing behavior”.


We’re Number 88! We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index

2012 Global Peace Index shows slightly more peaceful world from 2009

– Common Dreams staff

The just released 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI) from the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that the world has become slightly more peaceful over the last two years, with Iceland ranking as the most peaceful country and Somalia ranking as the least peaceful place. The U.S. ranks 88 of 158.

The index takes into account factors including jailed population, political instability, conflicts fought and military expenditure.

“What comes across dramatically in this year’s results and the six year trends is a shift in global priorities. Nations have become externally more peaceful as they compete through economic, rather than military means. The results for Sub Saharan Africa as a whole are particularly striking – regional wars have waned as the African Union strives to develop economic and political integration.” said Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

“Peacefulness has returned to approximately the levels seen in 2007, but while external measures of peacefulness have improved, there has been a rise in internal conflict. This is particularly noticeable in the rise in fatalities from terrorist acts which have more than trebled since 2003,” states Killelea.

The findings also highlight the fact that peace has an economic advantage. The IEP estimates that global peace in 2011 would have had an economic benefit of $9 trillion.

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Video uploaded by Vision of Humanity with highlights of the 2012 Global Peace Index

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10 Most Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
1 Iceland
2 Denmark
2 New Zealand
4 Canada
5 Japan
6 Austria
6 Ireland
8 Slovenia
9 Finland
10 Switzerland

 

10 Least Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
158 Somalia
157 Afghanistan
156 Sudan
155 Iraq
154 Dem. Republic of Congo
153 Russia
152 North Korea
151 Central African Republic
150 Israel
149 Pakistan

 

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Global Peace Index: Key Findings

 


United States values profit over peace

Letter to the Editor, May 24, 2010, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

By George Damasevitz

As we observe yet another Memorial Day, we are saddened to have added the names of over 400 more Americans to the list of those sacrificed in our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. No person is an island, and each will be missed.

How can we stop the killing? Is it really being done to defend our shores? Promote democracy abroad? Revenge for 9/11? Snuff out terrorism? Evidence of any success with these wars seems to be a closely held secret.

Is anyone benefitting from these conflicts? The answer is an emphatic “yes.” In our country there are corporations which have a right to exist and yet have no soul, compassion or morality. Their reason for existence is to make a profit. For some of these corporations, their employees and stockholders all benefit from the sale of weapons. These weapons may be bullets or bombs, guns or aircraft. The list is huge. And so is the money. And our taxes are paying the bill.

These same corporations effectively run our government, since nearly all elected politicians receive financial support for their campaigns from them. Politicians who vote against war run the risk of losing reelection. Many of their constituents work in factories where war tools are made. Since a significant portion of our economy is based on the defense industry, Americans are faced with a conundrum and have to ask themselves some hard questions such as whether or not they want to live in a society where their country is constantly at war just because it provides good-paying jobs. To end the killing, we have to overhaul our foreign policy and convert the base of our economy into more sustainable pursuits that will be useful to ourselves and the rest of the world. This will not be quick or easy, but the sooner it is done the better off we will all be. It is time for corporations to stop making profits from war.

As we remember our fallen Americans on May 31, it’s useful to point out that the church bell will never toll for corporations like Lockheed Martin, Halliburton or Raytheon — but it will continue to ring mournfully for our brave brothers and sisters who gave their lives for our country.

George Damasevitz was a board member of Broome County Peace Action.

 

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