Transparency

transparency

When we know what's going on we can change it.

 

Knowledge

knowledge

The more we know, the better ideas we have.

 

Rationality

rationality

The more objective thinking we do the better decisions we make.

 

Compromise

compromise

We all live together and and depend on each other.

 

Society

Admonishing a child to never lie creates a liar, because they will and then they'll have to lie about it. We often treat adults the same way. The truth is we all lie so we need to differentiate between good lies and bad lies. The difference comes when our lies hurt other people.

  • A lie to prevent hurting someone else can be a good lie
  • Cheating in any form is lying that harms others and is a bad lie
  • When a lie is found out, a connection is irreparably diminished
  • Men lie an average of three times a day to protect themselves
  • Women lie an average of twice a day to protect others
  • Lying can become habitual, to the point where you lie without even receiving a benefit
  • In the case of confabulation, your brain actually creates false memories that conform to your lies so you believe them yourself
  • Studies show that people who decrease their rate of lying experience better physical and mental health

So we need to slow the reflex of our brain to automatically lie, so that we continue to lie when it helps others, but minimize the lies that harm others. Both parties benefit.

“Lies are neither bad nor good. Like a fire they can either keep you warm or burn you to death, depending on how they're used.” ― Max Brooks

Recent studies with babies as young as three months old show that humans have an innate sense of justice - liking puppets that do good things (helping others) and preferring punishment for puppets that do bad things (hurting others). Unfortunately, they also exhibit a less positive innate reaction. They like puppets that seem to have characteristics similar to themselves (liking the same snack) and dislike puppets that are different than themselves (dissimilar preferences). These results seem to support the idea that the human survival trait of lumping people into "us" versus "them" is there early. However, further studies show that, due to the inborn sense of justice, when children have interaction with those "others" the exposure strengthens the sense of fairness and diminishes the bias. In other words, being around diverse people and learning of the similarities of people overcomes the prejudice and fear.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” ― Maya Angelou

Hypocrisy erodes values and trust. You cannot always stop hypocrisy in others, but you can stop it in yourself. Well-known hypocrisy examples:

  • Condemning liars - lying yourself
  • Promoting "godly" values - abusing children
  • Vowing public service - voting for contributor special interests
  • Espousing equality - discriminating selectively by race or gender
  • Railing against homosexuality - engaging in anonymous bathroom trysts
  • Railing against crime - accepting under the table payments or favors
  • Complaining about government giveaways - accepting subsidies, unemployment payments, tax deductions/credits, FEMA recovery...

Since most of what we say publicly is support for positive values, a little more living up to those words would go a long way.

“A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.” ― Adlai E. Stevenson II

A lack of empathy is obvious in psychopaths who commit horrendous crimes without remorse. At a lower level it is rampant in society. For example, it is amazing how many people act with hatred toward gay people until someone in their family comes out as gay. Then their empathy kicks in and they change their position. We need to consciously try to put ourselves into the shoes of every other person to see how they feel and see what they have to cope with before taking action. Empathy does not mean government giveaways, not stating your opinions or enjoying your own life. It does mean recognizing the ramifications of your actions on fellow human beings.

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.” ― Walt Whitman

Pejorative terms flung at people you disagree with does nothing but inflame emotions for and against you, with little consideration for the facts or help in reaching resolutions. Here are the real meanings of commonly misused terms:

Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

Communism: a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

Marxism: the system of economic and political thought developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the capitalist system, containing from the first the seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society.

We do not have actual socialists, communists or Marxists in any of our three branches of Federal government.

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Synchronized activities create cohesion and cooperation in the group, even after engaging in the synchronized behavior. Examples include cheering for a team, dancing, singing, the Pledge of Allegiance, marching and shouting slogans at a rally.

Even less explicitly choreographed activities increase some of these good feelings and action. Examples are sports teams and work groups. The lesson from this is if people do things together they are nicer to each other and feel better about each other. However, if the synchronized activity is also AGAINST another group of people or idea, the animosity rises toward the other group or idea. By only having group activities selectively with the same groups, we encourage selective bonding with some and animosity toward others. If we do things with different people and groups at different times, we become less ingrained in antagonistic outlooks toward certain groups and more cohesive overall.

"The quality of moral behavior varies in inverse ratio to the number of human beings involved." ―Aldous Huxley

Some people become stubbornly entrenched in their opinions such that only a major event could change their outlook. Yet sometimes they do evolve, or that major event does occur. When we don't look at them as lost and the enemy, there is hope.

“Time makes more converts than reason.” ― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Change has been the pathway for progress in human security, health, life span, liberty, self-actualization and happiness. At the same time, we often fear change and grasp at the comfort of the good old days or the way things are now.

Change will happen no matter how hard we fight it. And those (these) good old days are not really so good for a lot of people and in a lot of ways. It is much healthier to embrace the many benefits of change. Supporting and guiding the progress of human society is something that should be admired, not denigrated as betraying the traditional.

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in'.” ― Ronald Reagan

Fear was an important survival mechanism for early humans (and still is sometimes today). However, the gut reaction of fear toward anything that is different from you contributes to emotional reactions that trump your brain.

The normal reaction to fear is Fight or Flight. Attacking or avoiding people or ideas that are different foments antagonism, hatred and ignorance. Both parties and society suffer. Progress requires change and change creates fear in many people, who fight to maintain their comfort. Recognizing this helps us to overcome the reaction of the amygdala and use the reasoning part of our minds.

"To him who is in fear everything rustles." ― Sophocles

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