Diann Rust-Tierney

Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

This conversation is closed.

What will it take to move our nation and then the world to the place where we value and nurture people.

We pay a lot of lip service to the value of the individual or our investment in children as our future. But when you look at what we do there is a gap. We tolerate people and families living on the streets, we accept vast disparities in educational opportunities for children, we keep millions of people locked up and locked down in solitary confinement and we execute some.

I'm looking for concrete steps we can take to build a sense of commitment and connection that will allow us to be a healthier and more compassionate society. I have described the symptoms-- what can we do together to fix the real illness? How would you define it?

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    Jan 19 2014: the only thing that comes to mind are Mahatma Gandhi principles . one that i like most is his views on change, he said that we cannot change the world that surrounds us wothout changing ourselves.
    all these change begins firstly with self the individual, then the family, friends, society.
    we only need compassion and strong will power to change from " I " to " We". i think there are many ways to achieve this, from medidation to education of the self
    apart from Gandhi. Teachings of J. Krishnamurti, Sermon on the mount by Jesus, Budha will definitely take us on the path we want to achieve. it's not rocket science it's will power.
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    Jan 9 2014: The US is a compassionate society, and here is a little proof of that from a US TV show called “That would you do?”

    http://www.wimp.com/groceriesstrangers/

    To me and many others True compassionate is something you just do, no motivation or forethought needed. I guess you can say it is instinctive or a primal response, no education required.
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      Jan 9 2014: Thank you for sharing this. It made me cry-- it was wonderful. And I agree. This question was not meant to be about reinforcing the negative. Its about how can we get more of this.

      It's about redefining ourselves as the people in the grocery store. I'm going to share it now.
      • Feb 7 2014: Bleeding heart without resources is like marriage without sex. I is non starter. Starting point is let poor stop making babies and let us restrict non productive longevity. If you do not agree show me the resources to solve the problem. Let us start with mental health or cheap housing or having true friends.
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    Jan 19 2014: Hi Diann

    Great and inspiring words, from a great and caring soul. This is my temporary perception and I own it.

    Unfortunately, for as long as the Human Consciousness is polarized, there will be no end to pain and sorrow.

    The polarization of human consciousness is the reason between the feeling of "We" and "They" and this division necessarily brings forth Bias. As an example, you can see it in politics, where there is the ruling party and the opposition. The Divide and the Bias that maintains the Divide will not end soon.

    How can we put and end to this? How can we put an end to Bias, to "We" and "They"?

    Can you live without bias? Investigate this question deeply, and the answer will come to you in DEEDS, and not words. The words will convey the finding, but the finding must not be answered from knowledge.

    Equality, is a word that is meaningless, even though it is used more often than it is worth using.

    When we use words without Honesty, meaning that we use them to gain an advantage rather than to convey facts, words are meaningless.

    Deception is a great inward perceptual Distorter, and it distorts in favor of "I", due to Bias.

    Truth has no Favorites as it seeks neither to advantage or disadvantage. Advantage or disadvantage distorts the Truth. Truth brings Clarity into Consciousness. Then we can See. And we can behold the Great Oneness. Only an Unbiased mind, mind that is Innocent, harmless (Bias is harm) can see the Truth.

    Can you live without seeking advantage? Seeking to be biased? Or, can your Bias be made to work for the rest of Humanity? Can we have a bank that has one account, the Humanity account, and we all deposit our money there, as much as we earn, but never knowing how much we individually have, only collectively?

    Every deed of ours is biased, towards something. And Bias makes us blind in one eye, we become One Eyed monsters. Selfish and divided.

    Where there is Bias, there is no Equality. Without Equality, we cannot stand as One.
    This is how it is in my world.
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      Jan 26 2014: That is the big challenge. You have described the obstacles. For some what you write will resonate with a spiritual path for others it will sound and feel as though they are being asked to give-up the self.

      I think that is the heart of the challenge of moving to the next level. You ask hard questions and worth considering. Do we make progress by at least considering the questions?
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        Jan 27 2014: It seems that we as a species need to admit that whatever we experience, we experience as one, as every species is responsible individually as well as collectively. It is vital that we see this, that we, from all cultures and languages, all races and ideals, we have one thing in common: we are Humans. And being Humans, we are obliged to extend out humanity to all our members, without favoring one over the other, and to other species. It may take thousands of years for this truth to come to the light; some of us see it, most of us not. Progress can be made by considering the question, as you summarize it. We are together on the Titanic. When the Titanic goes down, which is already happening, the top deck-first class, will also go down with the rest, nobody will be spared.

        We must consider seriously our future as a specie, and the rest of the species, else the Noah's Ark will be empty, lifeless. Thank you for raising the issue.
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      Jan 27 2014: Refreshing to see a champion of truth. Bias is only bad when you don't recognize it as such. Find the truth in one's self and project outward.
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    Jan 9 2014: Make compassion, understanding, and acceptance a priority in your own mind and within your home. These virtues are as contagious as a smile. Set an example and the people will follow.
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    Jan 9 2014: LOVE
  • Jan 8 2014: Even though the question is vast, I believe individual small steps can be taken in order to set the ship assail that could one day achieve this tremendous goal.
    I think the first step is for each of us to see the individuals around us. Smile at others, don't ignore them. Put down the smartphone, take out the ear buds and listen and interact with the people in whom paths we cross each day. If we actually step out of our own world for a moment and into a strangers we may be able to help solve a problem making a positive impact in their lives. Something as simple as giving directions to someone who is trying to make it to a job interview. This would require some of our precious time, but the impact it may have on the other person could make a huge difference in their lives, compared to the small sacrifice we would have to make.
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      Jan 8 2014: Well said.
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      Jan 8 2014: I agree Steven and Diann...well said:>)
      I am all for starting with our "self" and doing small acts of kindness. When we think of the enormity of the challenge, it seems overwhelming. And if each and every one of us does a few small acts of kindness every day, it could make a HUGE difference in our world.

      You say...."the impact it may have on the other person could make a huge difference in their lives..."

      I agree and add...the impact it has on us, also makes a huge difference in OUR lives. There is a conversation going on about the ripple effect.....it works!

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/22255/the_ripple_effect.html?c=803363
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      Jan 8 2014: And once we have begun the communication we can work towards a better political decision making process, one where consensus trumps prejudice, belief and assumptions.

      Meanwhile, I would also suggest looking at the world itself and all that reality presents to us. The wind in the grasses or the trees, the bird flying by, the shadows moving across the landscape and anything else that is not electronic or manufactured. I find it far more entertaining and engaging than anything electronic or manufactured except, perhaps, Ted Talks.
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      Jan 8 2014: I Agree (Nicely stated)

      But, I would say that is the second step.
      The first step in being charitable is self-reliance. AKA: not being in need of charity.
      I have MS and work every day to maintain my self-reliance, with the hope that by not taking any of the limited charity dollars, it will be there for those in greater need. (I must add it is extremely aggravating, to see those not in need take charity.)
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        Jan 8 2014: You make a good point here that is relevant. People feel more able and willing to help if they are feel as though their needs are taken care of. Its called compassion fatigue. If we are worried about where our next meal will come from or whether we will lose our home, its harder to have the bandwidth to go out on a limb for someone else.

        But there were stories during the depression about people taking other people in, sharing what little food they had- what accounts for that?
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          Jan 8 2014: Diann,
          Could it be that some people recognize our interconnectedness? When we are helping someone, we are also helping ourselves because we are all connected.
    • Jan 9 2014: I believe what Steven said, is of the utmost importance.We as an individual should get some time to rethink on what needs to be done,as a human,for the humans.Another thing what i feel is about relevance and satisfaction. A miniature dying in front of you might be more relevant to you, than people dying in some way, long long distance.Lets say we've spending most of our time with one person,now that person would be more relevant to me, than the one which i have met an hour back,so if any needs come to both,then because of our tendency to think,or the feeling/emotions attached with a particular,we'll be forced to help the one which you know from long back.It depends on the way we take things.What we feel as right and important to be done, always comes in first priority.
      Also, there is a predetermined satisfaction behind every shot.Be it a game,or be it the life's most crucial decision.Our mind governs us,and a proper government always leads to a good nation.So here, if we do put a second thought on our coming steps,then i hope we could make this world a place where happiness is being bestowed on everyone.
  • Jan 16 2014: interesting topic, I like the topic, but it is not a straightforward answer

    Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world'. It really does start with the individual. Unfortunately there is no quick fix as the individual must first grow in compassion and responsibility. By example, when an individual takes responsibility for their actions, they will think carefully before they physically abuse their partner or children. It is because of lack of responsiblity their is a rife in domestic violence, murders, rape all over the world. People act but fail to take responsibility for their actions. So you see by just addressing one topic of responsibility how we can make the world a better place.

    Also whenever the individual does reach out to help, there is an expectation of a return. There should be no expectation, and you must act without expecting anything in return.
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      Jan 16 2014: Hello Radha, Great topic, although a neutral topic. Principles of Spirit give direction and I try to follow. I like your expression of reaching out. It defines the Principle of Giving. To bestow or impart to another person without an equivalent or reward.
      • Jan 16 2014: hello Larry, people have so much potential to be much greater than what they are, but yet they dont know how to tap into it. That is the reason why there is so much suffering in the world.

        Its not easy to take time to quieten the mind and go inward, but when people stop seeing the world from the 'outer eye', and perceiving that as their reality then there will be a shift from pain and suffering to joy, peace and harmony.

        On another note, we know that there are consequences for actions, so when people act badly there are consequences. Some of the suffering we see is a consequence of action, and for those we need to be compassionate.
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    Jan 15 2014: From the conversation so far, I am seeing the following themes:

    * First that there is a reservoir of caring and compassion that we have and exhibit that should not be ignored or underrated
    *Second, that a lot has to do with the way that we as individuals feel about and respond to the needs around us
    *This is less in the realm of things that can be done through direct programs and a lot to do with raising consciousness about how our fates are intertwined.

    Perhaps what we are trying to do is to affect a culture shift. Perhaps one as significant as the transformation in our thinking about drinking and getting behind the wheel. It was not so long ago that responsible people did not see having a few cocktails and then getting behind the wheel as irresponsible. With a concerted push to raise public awareness, that view has been completely turned around.

    What if there was a concerted and sustained effort to change the way people think about our connection to one another? Would that be a good approach?
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      Jan 16 2014: Diann, I can see that you have followed the roots and are close to the source. I know how my thinking is transformed and perception of the world follows. How do I change your thinking? How do I change your mind? How do I change your heart? Answer that and you will know your approach. Old saying, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Feel free to change the saying you can add man or woman if you like. Keep progressing, Progress defined as increasing in Truth and Light.
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    Jan 15 2014: Nothing will change until the system of political decision making is changed because that is where everything starts. The current representative system only represents the interest of those who are able to buy, manipulate, seduce, blackmail or otherwise influence that decision making and what the voters want is irrelevant. Representative systems are a joke.

    First things first. Put control of that decision making in the hands of those who have to live with the decisions. The rest will follow. See Direct Democracy and Liquid democracy for ideas.
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      Jan 15 2014: I agree completely! The US representative system is perhaps one of the most openly broken ones that I know of.

      "To lead this country you must accept donations from donors that will be exchanged for promises about policy changes" It's not a Democracy, it's the clearest case ever of a Plutocracy.

      For anyone interested in a debate about different democratic models you are welcome to join it on: http://www.ted.com/conversations/22548/which_is_the_best_form_of_demo.html
      • Feb 7 2014: Jimmy:
        That is how living organisms are structured. At times physically strong, at times mentally strong and at times resource rich controls the social set up. Is democracy designed to resolve this issue. We have system where one group that invest in Government benefits greatly. Bottom 90 % invest little and survives on false morality feeds on each other and let rich be rich. Only rich innovate, take risk, initiative and gambles their life. Large group of ordinary souls in any group ant or humans cannot run society. If all low income people want is no work, no gamble, lazy marginal lifestyle, American democracy is giving it to them, so far,
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    Jan 9 2014: Your concept is great, agree with every word you say. It is a grand task for us to invent the structure of many varieties of small flexible systems for to serve our future society. Why small systems instead of the existing gigantic systems? Our manmade society and its systems of all sorts, treat everyone as collective non-existing prototypes. When they are huge it is impossible to adjust them to unavoidable changes within our environment, these systems are doomed to collapse, sooner or later creating disasters .

    We still shall learn that nature nurtures us as unique individuals with different abilities and characters, different needs and possibilities. Each of us has uniqueness that shall never be suppressed by our society games and conventions, otherwise our stiff systems provoke illness, bitterness, madness, crime, and war. We still need to learn how to bring out the best from our nature's granted abilities, within ourselves.
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      Jan 9 2014: I agree Vera, that people often get "lost" in systems....stereotyped and prototyped as you say, and it's important to recognize people as individuals with different abilities and characteristics, different needs and possibilities.

      Along with our differences, I think/feel it is important to also recognize our similarities. We can learn and grow with each other when/if we make that choice, and that choice starts with each of us as individuals:>)
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        Jan 9 2014: Coleen, you put this together better than I did. Ted just published my conversation very much related to this one.

        "How seriously does our ability to imagine others in our minds impact our understanding of others in real life?"

        I'd be so glad if you will comment on it. It is about how we manage to create our own character while perceiving others… it's also about our natural abilities to act as others(at least in our minds) in order to understand others..
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    Jan 9 2014: We, human beings, by and large, are already taking care of ourselves. There are more than 7,000,000,000 of us. What is worrisome is the rest of the other living things that share the planet Earth with us. Don't they have the same value as human beings? Don't they deserve the same care and nurturing?

    Perhaps if we learn to take care of the trees, and the fish, and the birds, and other living creatures ... perhaps if we take care of our ecosystem and stop polluting our Earth, we may also learn to take care of each other a little better.
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    Jan 27 2014: It will take a set of moral standards that everyone can live with. De-centralized government. Return of the gold standard or some other currency stabilizing mechanic. Those who want something for nothing must re-evaluate their purpose on this beautiful earth. What I see today is division...all driven by things that really don't matter. What matters is family. The message to all ..this is our earth...let's work on it.....together.
    • Jan 27 2014: "Return of the gold standard or some other currency stabilizing mechanic"

      I do not understand comments like this.

      The gold standard guaranteed you could buy an ounce of gold with $10, or $10 with an ounce of gold, but it provided no guarantee as to the price of anything else.

      In fact, on the gold standard, we experienced very wide swings in the price of everything other than the pegged gold/$ exchange rate.

      In the 1800s, the golden age of the gold standard, there were 10 depression and 12 recession, with a 20% decline in total economic activity being the dividing line. With an average duration of about 2 years each, we spent about 46 years of the 100 year century in some state of economic collapse.

      There is a reason that pretty much every nation in the world left the gold standard. It sucked HARD!
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        Jan 28 2014: History rewritten for the benefit of those in power. In order for a man to work with diligence is the knowledge that his sweat will put food on the table. It is the value of his labor that must remain stable and reliable. This allows him to make rational decisions based on the output of his skill. No Gold was not the guarantee, discipline and trust that your labors will buy the same goods is the guarantee. My point was not the gold standard, just a value standard. You blame the gold standard on the collapse when it truth it was the manipulation of man that was the cause. History is only published by the one's in power. Know this and you will begin to know truth.
        • Jan 28 2014: "History rewritten for the benefit of those in power."

          Exactly how would someone not in power rewrite the 1800s that is different from the version written by those in power?

          In the end, the price of everything is at the whims of highly variable supply and demand, even gold. One day wheat is plentiful and you can buy a lot of it for an ounce of gold. Next year, locusts and drought ravage the crops, you can't buy wheat for gold, but farmland is cheap as the banks have to dump all the foreclosures.

          Gold standard did not prevent the wild swings in prices. If anything, it magnified them as trust in script, bank note, and other forms of money waxed and waned rapidly.
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        Jan 28 2014: Again, Gold is just a scapegoat to cover the misdeeds of the bankers. Only banks foreclose on intellectual property. When the defaults could have easily been forgiven. Just as it could be today. All the talk of debt to a creditor that is broke. It's all just intellectual garbage to maintain the hold on power. Try to wrestle yourself free from the doctrine of lies.
        • Jan 28 2014: The defaults could not be forgiven because there are depositors that want their money out, and that (in the days before FDIC) meant the bank staying solvent, not to mention the shareholders that didn't buy stock in the bank as a charity.

          The doctrine of lies is that the gold standard had some magical ability to prevent the business cycle and maintain price stability... or that price stability is actually some great thing.
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        • Jan 28 2014: Yes, gold is an excellent, time tested way of flaunting your wealth in the faces of others... and with the exception of electronics leads that do not corrode, has not a whole lot of value otherwise.

          It has value because it had value, and it had value because it was one of the first metals we could work . Its high malleability allowed it to be beaten into shape in the melena before we discovered metal casting.
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        Jan 28 2014: Man is to blame for the collapse of any system. We can not move forward in this discussion until we agree it is not the currency in and of itself, but man's ability to manipulate the market for unfair game. This is achieved through politics. Trust is earned by deeds not by policy.
        • Jan 28 2014: Well of course, but that does not alter the only point I was concerned with. The myth that the myth that the gold standard provided some magical price stability is a pet peeve of mine. Prices of everything except gold gyrated wildly while we were on the gold standard.
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        Jan 28 2014: And my point is, it could well have been any thing put up as a standard and it would have failed. We don't have the discipline to adhere to the standard. Where there is no standard of measure, there is only chaos and nothing by which we can compare achievement or attain credit in exchange for goods and services.

        I must thank you for your contribution to this thread. Perhaps we can discuss it over a pint of ale someday.
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          Feb 7 2014: So looking at this strain, do I gather that the point is that people must have some sense of personal security in the basic needs for survival before we can reach out to others?

          There is an old saying that is: you can not lift someone else up when you are on the ground. Is that the idea.
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    Jan 23 2014: We can all contribute to make this world a better place by making our generation more aware of our history like how it used to be. Nurture begins at home so we can contribute to be a role model for some one by being a nice person.
    Also it is necessary to let our generation value happiness rather than paying price for it.
  • Jan 13 2014: each of us could mention different scenarios prevailing in our countries. but whats important is not the differences in its manifestations but to see the nature of the problem being the same.

    we are trying to see at the global scale, or at national level but is that not what we do in our small worlds - our world of family, friends, neighbours, work place, relatives? we speak of family - we are one but in our experience we separate ourself from them. we try to draw limits as to how far we act or think for the other. beyond that limit even if you see the other needs help, you tie your hands and legs, zip your mouth, block your heart and head to feel or think. we are concerned as far as we consider mine. ‘mine’ is the area that gives you certainty, pleasure, security, significance. it defines your sense of I. and unfortunately, the circle we have drawn is limited to our families, our achievements, joys and sorrows.

    the moment you have limited yourself you are blind to the fact that we are actually not this limited, separate entity as you tend to perceive or believe. our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, our pleasures and inconveniences, our position or status in the society…every experience is connected to the small and the big world we live in, to all the people, nations of the world.

    if only if we can realise this truth of our existence, we will then act responsibly, with commitment, very different from what we are today. so Diann, if you are looking for a powerful, strong initiative it has to begin at the individual level. people in position and power have to think differently for them to act differently. thats when we act responsibly. thats when compassion is possible. for that matter any noble, wise action can be taken.
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      Jan 13 2014: Well said. This question is as much about what we can do now as it is about how we individually and collectively can evolve in our nature.
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    Jan 10 2014: Introduce the concept in the public education system. From start to finish. With each level becoming more complicated as the student progresses. Advertising fast food, and toys, and tv shows, and expensive cars, and big houses......twists everything up.
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    Jan 10 2014: According to Immanuel Kant: Humans want concord, but instead nature “wills discord". And I have to agree with him, we always tend to make better societies, a better future for our children, a better life, thus Utopia, However, in reality, what is happening is that we always fight for a better life without ever achieving it, we have wars, hunger, poverty, depressions, suicide... and unfortunately, that's the way nature works, it will never change, and the proof is that we have been living like this since the creation of the first societies.
    My point is that "societies" are the real problem! As long as we live in an organized society, this hierarchy of having fortunate and less fortunate people is crucial for its survival, its kind of like the cells of a body, we have "fortunate" cells like our brain cells that we carry till we die, and "less fortunate" cells like leukocytes, who defend the body and die for its sake. In the end, they are all crucial for a healthy body, but each one have its "divine" role to accomplish.
    Now imagine a world with no societies, where each individual is king and peasant at the same time, what would happen to wars? hunger? etc... I believe that this is a solution, it is proposed and discussed by Nietzsche with the ultimate purpose of creating the "Overman" a human being so perfect that he is only managed by virtues.
    However, we are social creatures, Rousseau said, we are destined to live in societies, in a pyramidal structure. Rousseau created this "Social Contract" which is the fundamental of modern societies, could we refine it? customize it?
    In the end, the solution lies in each one of us. A couple of days ago, my friend did a random act of kindness, what he said is the following: If only for a moment we could walk in someone else's shoes out in this life, the world would be a better place.
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    Jan 9 2014: Let's ask this question another way: Are there other places in the world where people are valued and nurtured more than they are in the US? We might be surprised by the answer.
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    Jan 9 2014: Diann, below you asked for practical steps that can be taken.

    As with most issues education is the key, and not talking about adding a class to the current failing public miss education system. The US and world needs a free for all online local, national, and international education system. So Jean from the slams can take the same Miss Goodhart from small town USA 101 math class or Bill Gates 7801 programming class as John from Park Avenue.
    I should add, I’m suggesting an education blend something like 50% online and 50% traditional schooling.

    This would provide equality in education for all, and also boost inter-contentedness between everyone.
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      Jan 9 2014: Wow. Maybe you have just given us a picture of what it would look like. First, I commend you for what you are doing. And while everyone might not have the capacity that you have to love and bravely take on this kind of commitment it is an example of being responsible for your own corner of the world.

      In answer to your question, I would not warn you against what you are doing. I would be very mindful of the enormous commitment and challenge that you have taken on.

      This young man is very fortunate to have you as his champion.

      But as you suggest to move beyond the theoretical to the practical is hard work and can be scary and uncomfortable and even lonely.
      What can make us brave enough? As brave as you are?
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      Jan 9 2014: Carolyn,
      I would not "warn" you about the possibilities, because hopefully, before entering into the kind of scenario you present, you would have considered all the warnings, and gathered all information about the situation.

      I am curious about the information you provide. You say the person is "currently charged with attempted murder". "There is no guilty charge and it will take years". There would not be a guilty "charge", until the end of the court proceedings. Has there been a formal "charge" in a court of law? You say...."it will take years", which suggests that charges have not been filed in court?
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          Jan 9 2014: Carolyn,
          I suggest if the witness or victim refuses to testify, there is no case. If there was a case, they probably would be holding the person in custody. If it was a "boy", he might be in a detention center. Since it is a man (18) by law, he would probably be held in a jail if there was a case? Apparently there is not enough evidence (without the victim's or a witnesses' testimony) to hold the 8 men who are involved.

          I also suggest that your friends and family are concerned about you....maybe with good reason? If 8 men attempted murder, that is pretty serious Carolyn, and it's wonderful to reach out to people while considering all relative information.
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    Jan 8 2014: Most people genuinely want to help others, they want to feed the hungry, eradicate poverty,etc.
    But they don't want to do anything because they see it as an unachievable goal. People are indifferent to the millions of people dying of hunger, disease etc. because they think that their individual contribution will not fix it completely.
    The first step would probably be to make seemingly impossible tasks like ending world hunger look like it can be done, which is in itself a very difficult thing to do.
    Throwing statistics at people will not work, people need to find a way to connect to a problem personally for them to care enough to do something about it.
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      Jan 8 2014: I think you are on to something there. When the problem feels too big ( the way this question started out maybe :)) You don't know where to start. And it seems hopeless. And you are right to point out that in policy debates, we tend to focus on trends and statistics to describe the problem. We often fail however to go back and dissect the problem into smaller pieces that can be acted upon by communities and then the individual.
      What would be the best way of doing this? Say the policy folks describe the problem and give us a sent of the magnitude. Do they then go back and dissect it? Find the leverage points for the problem to identify the bite-sized pieces that people can act on? Or do we try another approach is to take the problem to the community or neighborhood experiencing it and have them come up with steps that can be broken down.

      Or is it as simple as each of us taking responsibility for the people in our immediate sphere- -assuring their comfort and well being and supporting and encouraging others to do so as well. Would that get us to helping the person living on the street?
    • Jan 9 2014: Altruism shouldn't be motivated by goals such as ending world hunger or malaria or whatever. Helping people, knowing that you're making at least a few lives better, should be motivation enough.
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    Jan 8 2014: You may be right in this way "valuing people" and nurturing people may be too amorphous. I am really talking about priorities.

    From my experience, the resources that are allocated to education varies by locality. In other words we have school districts within the same state with vastly different resources are available to educate the children in the state. And there is no legal requirement that states spend equal amounts to educate all of the children in the state. As a result all children do not receive the same quality of education.

    As for homelessness, there are no simple answers. The reasons that people are forced to live on the street are as varied as there are people. Some people have untreated mental health issues and/or substance abuse problems.Other lost jobs. And access to mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment requires medical coverage. Access to free services is limited.

    You are right that despite very challenging circumstances, many people do find a way to succeed despite the obstacles. But we need make that the rule and not the exception.

    As for prisons, budget cuts have resulted in cuts in services. And a philosophical shift away from prison as a place for rehabilitation to prison as a place for harsh treatment has eliminated many programs as well.

    And a significant and increased number of prisoners are kept in solitary confinement-- locked down-- 22 out of 24 hours. These prisoners don't have access to services and the conditions actually aggravate or create mental health issues..

    My question really goes to what policy choices do we make ?

    But I also, see that you don't buy my underlying assumption which is that there are inequities and disparities.

    But your comments point to a deeper challenge -- which is that we are not all working from the same set of facts.

    So if I could pose one answer to my own question: We must first get a common understanding of how those who are least like ourselves live.
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      Jan 8 2014: Your absolutely right about policy choices which then points to the greater problem, namely who is making those policy choices.

      As for common understanding, first consensus or at least some agreement is required and current political posturing in both the U.S. and Canada graphically illustrate the intransigence of some of the actors in that regard. Hence nothing will change in that regard until the decision making process changes. Democracy is supposed to be bottom up, not top down. Authoritarian is top down. Consensus is bottom up. Direct Democracy now.
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    Jan 8 2014: I think this is too vast a question, and in fact several questions with possibly all different answers. In our nation and our world there is an enormous amount of valuing and nurturing of people. So I guess you're saying that sometimes we don't see it? But I don't even buy what you're saying. I believe a lot of homeless people are homeless by choice, I believe resources are available that they don't want to take advantage of. And you can't force them to, can you, you can't march them into an apartment building pointing a gun at them? As far as prison goes, I suppose people have many different reasons for committing crimes. The system I think tries to help people. Schoolteachers try to teach good values, the church tries to teach good values, the government tries to teach good values. If you need psychological counseling, you can get it on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. If you're being molested there are many people to complain to. Even within prison from what I know there is a helping hand extended to prisoners, there are job programs, rehab programs, prison chaplains, prison psychologists. I don't believe there are such huge educational disparities, you will see people come out of the inner city schools and go to Stanford or Harvard, if there are such disparities how are they accomplishing that, they're not Supermen? I would think you need to narrow down your question, Diann, but I also think there is already huge amounts of caring.
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      Jan 8 2014: Yes there are a few people who choose to live outside the narrowly define structures of the existing economic system and who desire more from life than simply being wage slaves. But that does not mean they should also be denigrated and destitute simply for making such a choice.

      But your extremely naïve, misinformed or indoctrinated if you truly "believe that a lot of homeless people are homeless by choice". or that prisons are anything but warehouses for the unsightly indigent and taxpayer subsidized sinkholes for the profiteers.

      But then again, most of you premises begin with "I believe" and "I think" both of which seem to be substitutes for "I assume". And therein lies ther problem, namely that assumption is impoverished premise when it comes to going out and seeing for oneself, or obtaining - or even doing - the research and collating of the facts personally. Others have done so and that knowledge offers a far richer soil for their thoughts and beliefs to grow and flourish in.
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        Jan 9 2014: william, when I said "I believe," or "I think," what I was trying to suggest was that I'm not an expert, that my statements are only based on some, or a little, knowledge. I will say I don't particularly hear any hard research backing up your statements, as an example, I don't hear you providing any evidence that "prisons are....warehouses for the unsightly indigent and taxpayer subsidized sinkholes for the profiteers." I can say that the topic of homelessness, or prisons, does not interest me enough at this moment that I would do concerted research on them. So I make statements based on the amount of knowledge I have, for example, occasionally meeting and talking with a homeless person, or occasionally meeting someone who has done prison time, or, in my case, I often read about crime, or on TED I have talked a bit to people who have worked in the prisons, on paid or voluntary basis.

        I certainly would think your statements are debatable even on the basis of the limited amount of knowledge I have. From what I know, people who go to prison are violent, cruel people. Some are cruel to the point where they murder people. To say they are just "unsightly indigent" seems really inaccurate?

        Would you agree that there are already enormous amounts of caring and nurturance in this world? I look at this computer in front of me, and to me this computer represents caring and nurturance, that someone cared enough to labor and create this labor-saving device. I think of the TED organization and it represents caring and nurturance, that someone cared enough to create and maintain this wonderful organization that spreads ideas and creativity. I think of you replying to my comment, and that to me is also caring and nurturance, you cared enough to share your ideas with me, even if I don't agree with them. The list just goes on and on..........

        I maintain that Diann has bitten off too much in this question......
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          Jan 9 2014: you freely admit your knowledge is limited, therefore the best way to become better informed is to do the research yourself rather than expect others to do it for you.
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        Jan 9 2014: that if she believes there are places where not enough caring and nurturance is being shown, she would be more effective if she would isolate those points and engage in a conversation about those specific points.
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          Jan 9 2014: Greg,
          We see all kinds of conversations about what is "wrong" in our world. I LOVE the idea of discussing how we can move forward in our world to be able to value and nurture people. You start conversations about what YOU are interested in Greg, and other people start conversations about what THEY are interested in. You have a choice to participate or not, and popping in to criticize doesn't feel very nurturing to me.

          This is, as you insightfully say in your previous comment Greg....a caring and nurturing reply...even if we do not agree:>)
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        Jan 10 2014: well, William, I'm skimming the answers that other people have given to this question, and I'm not particularly seeing that anyone has based their answers on a great deal of hard research, or at least they haven't cited any research. This includes you. The person who started the conversation, Diann, made statements about three fields, but I can't see that she is much of an expert or knows a great deal about two of those fields. For instance, she asserts that there is inequality of education, but gives no evidence; she asserts that people are homeless because we non-homeless aren't compassionate, but gives no evidence. She makes a statement about prisons, and she probably does know something about prisons given her job title. But that's still only one of the three fields. If she and other people, including you, are giving their opinion without, in most cases, apparently backing it up with research or expertise, why do you expect me to do research to back up my statements?
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          Jan 10 2014: Well, Greg, my knowledge is derived from 20 years of volunteering with a dozen or more community based NGO's who provide services and support to the public and especially indigent populations. Each of which came with its own research and analysis of the demographics they deal with along with copies of related government and privately sponsored studies and analysis. That along with 20 years of first hand experience and 10 years of related university studies including applied criminology and psychology interactions provides me with a rich and substantial body of information to draw upon.

          Others in this chat have similar backgrounds and can provide valuable insights into you concerns. But nothing can compare with finding out for ourselves.
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        Jan 11 2014: william, you mention 20 years of first hand experience. 20 years of first hand experience of what?

        Probably I've approached this conversation wrongly. The woman hosting the conversation made certain assertions that I think are not based on her doing hard research or having substantial experience. For example, she seems to suggest that there are homeless people because many Americans aren't caring or nurturing enough, but I doubt that she has the qualifications that would give her statement strong credence. I took it that if she was making statements without a great deal of knowledge, I could, too. But probably a stronger approach would have been to ask her how she justifies her statements?
  • Feb 7 2014: When ultimately world will create a world currency and move away from dollar big changes will take place. Then American talking from the high will come down to earth. There will be dramatic changes and we will be in a same boat as 200 other countries and will have to worry about the amount of debt we can carry and still be on the mountain.
  • Feb 7 2014: My answer is simple... Start by looking at the mirror... and u will find the answer
  • Feb 7 2014: Republican congress-persons in hand cuffs.
  • Feb 7 2014: Those who cannot afford and/or do not know how to raise babies into citizens
    .should not have babies. Criminals should be executed so that they stop wasting money
    needed for sane society. Third death should be acceptable choice and should be facilitated.
    Older people who need very expensive care and do not have their own resources should
    think hard about choice of death.

    Ultimately 1 +1 equals 2. There is nothing one can do to make it 3. After realism we can create'a
    society you want.
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    Feb 5 2014: “A small step for a man, a giant leap for humanity” Those were the word of a man, who undertook a perilous task to show the world what an advance species he belonged. They are in constant technological progress, smarter computers, faster transportation, better communication, advance health care, finding cures for what was once thought to be incurable, yet we fall behind to find cures to racism, hatred and many more ethical and moral issues. Throughout history has been a few of us that thought of those issues could possibly be solved. Nelson Mandela, had strong ideologies for a better world, so did another great man with great visions ,Martin Luther King Jr., as well as a highly respected singer with strong beliefs for peace, Bob Marley. Man has the power to change not only his own fate but also of his companions, however the materialistic world around us have made most of us lose faith in humanity. It may seem like a small step for humanity but it will take a giant leap for one man to accomplish what a few good men has done before. We are all humanitarians in some ways that we don't realize, we need to inculcate humanitarianism in our educational system to where all future generations will ensure that our society have equal rights and seek innovation. I am myself looking forward to make the necessary steps to help my country by trying to raise awareness and hopefully make the latter a platform to where all the ideas gathered in TED talks can be successfully implemented. Developing countries can be "used" by organizations and foundations to make the them into a role model among other nations , if we invest the time to see the various development and innovation that can be done.
  • Feb 5 2014: Problems like this will continue as long as we accept without reservation political parties such as Republicans and their Taliban-like buddies the Tea-Party to exist. As long as people can blame god for all our problems instead of standing-up and deciding to not accept such swill for an excuse as to why things are as they are and do something about it!
  • Feb 5 2014: Teach ourselves to give freely without any expecation, and decrease the importance we give to our personal pleasures. A challenging path but nesecary to fix the real illness

    In terms of external action, maybe there is a way we can eliminate media and broadcasting that is designed towards prompting peoples personal craving. As that is what drives people to spend more money, maybe we can teach ourselves to live more simply.

    Thank you for posting. A much needed concern
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    Jan 30 2014: Diann, I am retired from he military, Industry and state service ... I have worked in law enforcement and in the prison system. We are miles apart in our thought and beliefs. We do share that all the best should be sought in the interest of the citizens of our great land.

    The examples must come from leadership ... a promise of transparency has no meaning without the actions to validate the promise ... when leaders lie we become divided and void of hope in a better tomorrow ... when we abandon legal process, the people despair ... when we are told that the Constitutional process will be bypassed, it tells us we no longer must abide by the rule either ... when a leader tells the world that he supports marijuana being legal and yet tells his daughters that it is bad and never do it ... what are we to think.

    The educational process is in a knee jerk mode ... the USA fell to the lower third of the lowest third in the PISA ratings. This allowed Sec Arne Duncan to initiate his promise to socialize education under the federal government.

    We are concerned about people living in the street while a millionaire president has a aunt and uncle on welfare that have both been ordered out of the country three times ... and now a judges says let them stay .. fair?

    We are more divided than I have witnessed in my 70 years. There is no commitment or honor at the top. Politicians are the new elite that we ran from in England.

    There are reasons to lock down and reasons to execute ... I have worked with these types and they have little or no value to society. They still attempt to kill even in their cells. Been there.

    We need someone to unite not to divide. We need rules and those who follow them.

    A return to a Constitutional government, Austrian economics, and strong honest leadership would go a long way to repair the damage. It will take years.

    And I am not even a conservative ... but am not a sheeple either.

    The USA is in distress. Bob.
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      Jan 30 2014: Bob, in what aspect of law enforcement did you work? I thought you are an engineer by training.
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        Jan 30 2014: Fritzie, I have retired from the military, General Dynamics as a Senior Engineer, and the Arizona Department of Corrections ... I also worked for the Sheriffs department where I still do man tracking and Search and Rescue.
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          Jan 30 2014: I can easily imagine you at search and rescue. It is wonderful that you are able to lead a life of the very diverse sorts of public service you do.

          May your good health allow for this for several more decades.
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        Jan 30 2014: Thank you.
  • Jan 29 2014: My answer to this question is a very radical one and I'm sure there will be a lot of people who will disagree with it. I believe in the existence of the cognitive distortion as defined by cognitive psychology. I believe one of the greatest cognitive distortions by humans is the concept of money. It is leverage, or is at least a tool for leverage. I feel strongly that the capitalist ideal has evolved toward its ultimate goal of 'getting all the money". I see it as a basic concept of how to make money and then become very efficient at it. It has spawned an environment which by nature is polar in terms of haves and have-nots. I don't think it's a coincidence that the rate of wealth in terms of a very small percentage of the population having most of it seems to be similar to the exponential rate that the human population has grown. I think that a global dynamic has emerged where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and I think it might be a self sustaining engine at this point. I can't come up with a solution in detail but I think that for our nation and the world to move to a place where we value and nurture people, we have to radically change the idea of money itself. For me, a good start to a better (if not perfect) world would be one with no money. I'm sure there will be people who would start to accuse me of communist ideals right away but this is not necessarily the direction I mean to go in. I just mean that there has to be something better than what we are doing now. Because lets face it, there is no value what-so-ever in a society that can generate someone who can get 99.3 percent of the wealth while the rest of the people are struggling. It just isn't good. There has to be balance where everyone can work toward a goal of getting the things we need to live and live simply in the now. I think that if we could all do that we'd be happier and have better relationships with each other instead of being forced to compete to the point of alienating ourselves.
    • Jan 29 2014: I largely agree with your answer. Our economic mode does encourage us to compete. Its compete or starve. The competition in a free society creates winners and losers and its great that were in a free society. It seems anti freedom to suggest that the world should be any other way.
      However we need to be free to cooperate with one another . Improved health technology is enabling population growth. The world is being increasingly required to sustain more and more people. Wealth disparity in a world of increasing populations will only exacerbate global tension and conflict.
      Its a truly tragic situation with unthinkable human pain being suffered.
      Necessity is the mother of invention... and to satisfy our need in an increasingly crowded world to be safe, we need a caring environment to exist within, our economic mode will evolve to one within which we can freely cooperate more and assist one another. The birth pangs of this evolution is being seen in the growth of social business and non profit organisations. Such businesses and our support of them can go viral with the assistance of online visible personal reputation building programs. TED cred for ethical cooperating
      consumers... I have written an essay on how such a scenario may emerge.see http://www.goviralbaby.com/world-peace-anyone.html
      Can we have a world in which we value and nurture people? Answer. Yes
  • Jan 27 2014: Our current economic mode encourages our competitive nature. If we do badly in the competition we and our children starve. The environment and everyone else are secondary consideration in the competition. Unfortunately in the competition, some win some lose and the environment is raided.

    The good news is we also have a cooperative nature, maybe a nature in ourselves which is stronger than our competitiveness.

    The economic mode does not do well at encouraging our cooperative nature. We need to set about encouraging and systemising responsibility within our market behaviour. In a regular market prices are transparant. Responsibility like price needs to become transparant if the markets are going to care for us and the world.
    I have written a lengthy essay on the subject if this is your interest see....
    http://www.goviralbaby.com/world-peace-anyone.html
  • Jan 27 2014: First i think we would need to figure out what world peace would be. Example: forum where all people are welcome to express ideas on what world peace would entail. All issues adressed- gov't, food, schooling, resources, etc..

    Once figured out and all agree(majority), approach a country going for elections and see if they will place a check box for WORLD PEACE. If the majority of voters check the box, we put the country on our world peace list and move on to the next.

    When we have enough countries(majority), we have our world wide vote. The end. Worldpeaceinfantry.boards.net Just a rough outline.
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    Jan 27 2014: The link below shows how the "less civilized??????" deal with misdeeds.

    http://divine-consciousness.tumblr.com/post/38879770144/i-was-recently-told-of-an-african-tribe-that-does

    “Love, Which created me, is what I am”

    I seek my own identity, and find it in these words: “Love, Which created me, is what“ I AM” Now need I seek no more. Love has prevailed. So still it waited for my coming, that I will turn away no longer. What I look upon attests the truth of the identity I sought to lose, but which my Creator has kept safe for me. My thanks for what “ I AM” and for keeping my identity untouched and sinless in the midst of all the thoughts of sin and error my foolish mind made up. Thanks to Creation for saving me from myself
    .
    Thought to contemplate: Now I mindlessly search no more. LOVE has prevailed!

    We have everything we will ever need, we just have to know where to look for it and how to use it.
  • Jan 27 2014: Make the "nation" a lot smaller. We lack the neurological capacity to care for more than a few people at a time.
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    Jan 23 2014: "I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts."

    "The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed. If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts that you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically. Each of your perceptions of "external reality" is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?................................ A quote from ACIM
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    Jan 23 2014: .
    To quit Invalid Happiness.
    .
  • Jan 22 2014: First, start with Capitalism in its present form, it's outlived its usefulness, past its use by date, it needs serious 'tweaking' in the 21st century to have any hope of sustainability. It's beyond consuming the populous and is now consuming itself in a futile attempt to remain viable.

    Second, abolish all shareholdings. Money will always take precedence over Man.

    Third, force Governments to take back control from the Corporation. Remove Corporate control and interest in governments, whom once upon a time served the people, and put responsibility and accountability directly back onto government for their 'duty of care' to the people. There is no such thing as a 'Democracy' anymore, that has been eroded over time by the Corporate sector. We now live in what I call a 'democratically elected Dictatorship'.

    Clean these three up and we can transfer monetary value to human value and begin the 'nurturing' process.

    I can see what's wrong with our system but unfortunately not academically skilled enough in coming up with answers.
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      Jan 28 2014: A seedling must fight against the ground to break the crest yet the soil itself is helping the seedling through nourishment and the seedling returns the favor by growing strong roots and holding the soil together. Their bond is symbiotic just as ours could also be. It's simply the balance that we lack. You see, you can not be a taker without being a giver...it creates the imbalance.
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    Jan 17 2014: Here is an example of something that I think undermines our ability to find empathy for one another and move in the direction that we have been discussing:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/16/ohio-killer-executed-with-new-lethal-drug-combo/4512651/
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      Jan 18 2014: I read the clip and was somewhat taken back by the words humane execution. Let me see if I can understand, you have murdered someone and now I want you dead but I want you humanely dead. So now the murderer and the executioner share the same insane wish for death. Something this post has done for me is brought awareness to a higher level. I have been opposed to the death penalty for some time I think it is barbaric and it simply is not a plan proven to work. It is a call for vengeance not justice. Florida imposes the death penalty. There used to be an evil contraption here called Old Sparkey that was used to dole out justice in the form of death by electrocution. Florida is more humane now killing is done by lethal injection. I think it involves three people pushing buttons with only one unknown actually delivering the lethal dose. I wonder why it is done that way? Maybe so a murderer is not made evident. I am curious to know how equal justice can be distributed in our country when death penalty laws vary from state to state. Most people that I have questioned oppose the death penalty. I believe the Federal Supreme Court should consider stepping in and suspending executions until there is a full understanding of what execution means and does to those involved. When that is understood hopefully they will abolish that mindless assault on creation.
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        Jan 26 2014: Thank you I completely agree. Florida today is one of the worst states that continues to use the death penalty with a great frequency. The legislature last year past a new law called the "The Timely Justice Act" which is supposed to speed up executions. The Governor has vowed to have an execution about every two weeks -- and he is not far off on his goal.

        What makes it worse is that Florida has an unbelievable track record of sentencing the wrong people-- innocent people to death. They have released 25 people from death row because of innocence. I think that's more than anywhere else in the country.
        More over the conditions under which people are house on death row in Florida are a real problem as well.

        It really is time for those of us who have these concerns to come together and change all of this.
  • Jan 17 2014: you freely admit your knowledge is limited, therefore the best way to become better informed is to do the research yourself rather than expect others to do it for you.
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    Jan 15 2014: First of all, citizens must be in charge of moving the lips and minds of our politicians.

    That would mean citizens will need to vote on the issues themselves, and not who gets to cast their vote.

    Second, nature would take its course and we would see lasting solutions that benefit us all as it did.
  • Jan 15 2014: It will take us, then our family, then our community, then our city, etc...
  • Jan 15 2014: In few words a great catastrophe and suffering, the kind of pressure that moves people on a different path. We can try making better things easier, things tend to flow through the path of least resistance.
  • Jan 15 2014: PS- I forgot to mention... creating another federal "reserve" for the poor won't work. When Social Security was established the idea was to supplement people's retirement, so the money was collected into a fund. Essentially, bureaucrats that decided that money was needed elsewhere stole the funds and turned it into an obligation. The Federal Reserve is a private company that already is writing checks from an account with no money in it, so they print more money giving the illusion that there is something solid behind their wealth, while they devalue the dollar every year requiring people to work even harder and have less. Since today our "leaders" voted to increase our national debt to 18 trillion dollars which everyone knows is unsustainable, I wouldn't count on the feds to provide for the poor. It would be easier to write the 300 miliion people in our country each a check for $2 million. Then we wouldn't have any poor people and the cost would be a lot less than the trillions they have already squandered.
  • Jan 15 2014: Dear Danger Lampost- I like your idea about documenting the plight of our poor people, but in my neighborhood, I already see them almost every day. Some people do certainly lack empathy and I think that there are many self-centered people in our society. However, I think you are wrong to generalize and discriminate by calling all rich people greedy. I know many wealthy people that are very kind, caring and donate generously and frequently. They happen to be very nice people. The media has done a lot to demonize people with resources. But it's the wealthy and the corporations that also provide the jobs and the tax base to pay for those who cannot do for themselves. I personally think that everyone should be wealthy, but then there would be different kinds of problems. I know what you're saying- there is a lot of conspicuous consumption which emphasizes the divide between rich and poor. I am not a rich person myself but I do consider myself fortunate. I was lucky enough to have had great parents that cared about my future and loved me enough to say no. But I have never begrudged other people their good fortune. To reiterate Diann's question is how do we get the help to those who need it? I think you are on the right track to begin locally- you can't count on Washington for anything. They are so out of touch it's mind-boggling. Their whole focus is how to extort more money from Americans. They already have enough to fix the problems but they just don't care enough to follow through. I would ask that when you make your videos, look around. I think you will find that there are already lots of volunteers and paid personnel that have started the ball rolling. Give them some credit for helping in the trenches. Maybe more will join if they think the effort is not so huge and hopeless. And I agree with Niamh Foley- everyone has their own personal problems and it's difficult to take care of other people if we can't take care of ourselves.
  • Jan 14 2014: Personally. I don't think that people don't care about those they don't know, particularly those on the streets or suffering in other countries. In many Western societies, there is great emphasis placed on individual achievements and successes rather than community endeavours which can lead to a self-centredness. I'm not suggesting that this is completely a positive or negative view to have, I believe that it is important to have personal goals but also to look outside one's own life.
    I don't think that we tolerate those on the streets out of indifference, it is easier to ignore or avoid something unpleasant rather than to acknowledge the problem. Similarly, when one sees people in other nations suffering on the news, although one feels sympathy, it's easy to forget the problem as it is so far away
    I feel that integrating and unifying people across social groups and demographics has a key role to play in addressing this. it's important for us all to realise that we are all people with feelings, hopes, families and friends despite the differences in race, age and social standing.
    Volunteering is probably my greatest passion. through it, I've met a huge range of people; from the elderly to babies, Irish and South Africans and school children to drug users. I've learned a great deal from each experience and something new from every encounter. I've been really lucky. The most important thing I've learned is compassion for others, we're all the same and yet very different. I think that if people from all age groups and background gained an greater insight into how others around them and/or around the world live in a "hands-on" method we would all be more willing to see ourselves as a unified group and extend our charity outside our own homes
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    Jan 14 2014: I think the real illness is a lack of empathy with or compassion towards the poor. This to me seems spiritually similar to Buddha's crisis that lead him to leave the isolation of his royal palace, towards having compassion for those who are suffering, for that is everyone.

    I've been volunteering to help put together a video telling the stories of the homeless people you've asked about. I think publishing videos like these is one very good concrete step you can take towards achieving your goal. [Link to very small part of project I shot - raw, *unedited* footage, part of a larger project just getting under way telling the stories of local homeless people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ibW3Nf6gq0]

    One of the larger issues, is the anger many people feel over the idea that some people would act as free loaders and take advantage of the system - which translates, for these people, into being personally taken advantage of. I think this is best solved at the grass roots political level. For example, local city councils may vote on how to resolve their local homeless problems, so show up and be heard. I'm not sure what can be done at the federal level as that is so gridlocked on this particular issue.

    Another very concrete step, at the Federal level but not sure how to achieve: Imagine if we created a Federal Social Reserve - works just like the federal reserve system, only the funds are used exclusively to combat poverty.

    Another larger issue is the general greediness demonstrated by the wealthy class - using the word 'greed' here in its stricter sense of desiring more of something than one needs. This gets back to what I think the real illness is - lack of empathy for those around us.
  • Jan 14 2014: In my humble opinion, it is the folks in Washington that issue most of the lip service. I take affront to the idea that we are not a compassionate nation. Every day in our communities, I see ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the simple reason that doing the right thing makes them feel good. A couple I know purchased an air conditioner for a woman who couldn't afford one for herself. I saw my hairdresser initiate a charity auction for a child who had cancer. The Lions Club has raised a small fortune for the blind and local churches of ALL denominations run food banks for the hungry and collect Christmas presents for children who wouldn't have any. This is happening every day in every community in our country. It is only in Washington that these daily acts of kindness are not recognized or appreciated. Americans citizens are donating while our government is wasting. And with all due respect, though I appreciate your idealism and desire to make our world a better place, since you seem to have a voice in Washington, how about beginning by getting our leaders to stop bad mounting our country? All countries have a past history- bad and good. We can only heal the mistakes of our forefathers by not repeating them. Throwing money at failed programs and schools is a political issue and and shame for every needy citizen in our country who can't get what they need. Start by requiring education classes for ignorant parents that spread ignorance, hate and poverty to innocent children destroying whatever chance they have before they begin. We need to recognize that there are VERY bad people who can't be saved. How do you nurture a person that steals, rapes and murders someone's child? You can only begin by having consequences for bad behavior. Nurturing is fine, but first a rule of law to prevent chaos, and then a universal practice of kindness and manners. I think we should have a national "good manners day". Who knows, maybe it will catch on. Pay it forward.
  • Jan 13 2014: Diann,

    Your looking for - concrete steps we can take to build a sense of commitment and connection that will allow us to be a healthier and more compassionate society.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe we will ever get there, ever.

    That we can allow 40,000 children a day to die from various causes, makes a mockery of the word 'humanity' and 'human rights'. There are none. No matter now we slice it, how thick we coat ourselves with a veneer of civilization, that we to allow that to happen, means we are simply put - self serving savages.

    From your perspective, as the "Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty", do you realize that there are in fact two 'death rows'?

    One for the perpetrators, and the GraveYard for the victims.

    Those victims get no assistance, no second chance, no legal assistance, no chance for parole.

    We only focus on those that are alive not those that died......and therein may just lay the issue. Why those children are ignored.

    But it's not about the death penalty, nor your job.

    A start would be if politicians, actually acted like civilized people, rather than grabbing for themselves, and being war mongers, and I just dont mean the american one. I mean all, I mean leading the country through example, being the better man, like Nelson Mandela was, but again does anyone really think Obama et al, will give up their own WANTS for another's NEEDS?

    A start though would be teaching children, and adults - if it's not too late, if the system isn't too far gamed. That if we can respect ALL human life, not just a person's wallet, nor position in society, nor the amount of missiles a country has, nor what color, nor what creed, nor country a person is from - then and only then is there ever a smallest hope for saving those 40,000 who die every day.

    Unless that happens Globally, then pretty much, we should at least be honest with ourselves and say we, as a species, just dont care, as long as it does not effect us
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      Jan 13 2014: You put your finger on the root of my question. I see from my experience a system that ultimately undermines our commitment the larger goal of a greater commitment to the value of humanity.

      First, as you point out the focus and the continuation of capital punishment in a waning numbers of states diverts energy, focus and resources from what should be our main focus: providing concrete direct support to families harmed by murder. We find that those jurisdictions that use the death penalty are not those at the top of the list providing direct assistance to victims of homicide. And what assistance is provided is not always available to all victims equally.

      When we see executions take place in the midst of serious doubt about guilt, or when its clear that the trial and conviction were tainted by bias or the incompetence of the lawyers it sends the signal overall that the government regards life and pretty cheep.
      The more I work on this issue, the more I see that the discussion is about what kind of people, what kind of society we want to be?

      We also see that far from bringing an end to suffering, the death penalty creates new waves of more suffering touching more families: the lawyers; people working in the prisons;the family of the perpetrator and often the family of the victim.

      What would it be like if we were dedicated to relieving the suffering we saw and not simply perpetrating more suffering.

      I think it is possible-- if we see that we are more connected than we think.
      • Jan 14 2014: Diann,

        I'm glad that you posted that the victims assistance is not always provided, until we as a society, really put huge amounts of effort in there, we have to realize that, bluntly, hate is a powerful force, and one that can easily overcome many who get no help. A very important part of any transition to a better world.

        Same is true for executions, I know only too well that many a case is rushed through on the flimsiest of evidence, or by the so call authority of an expert witness. We need to address that too.

        Too often we play a game of swings and roundabouts, where one of the above is in fashion vs the other. That does not lead to progress.

        I for one say we won't get there (a better society), only as we have not achieved a critical mass of people wanting it. And also realizing what they need to do, both gain and loss, to achieve it.

        But we don't give up, I for one have given free education to significant numbers all over the world, via the internet. To give people the chance to have opportunity, to give them a change at helping others with their new found skills. Education too has a major role to play, real education not the kind that Ms Rhee did in Washington dc, where the just numbers looked good, but real value to the children, to have a real hope of fulfilling their dreams

        While I see what an ideal society could be, yes I have seen that far, I too realize that unless we all act in a unified manner, reminiscent of the goal of president Kennedy which drove a nation to achieve the lofty goal of getting to the moon, we cant achieve that society.

        I know only too well that Kennedy did that, not only to bind a nation, but to surpass the ussr. Unfortunately there is no equivalent of the ussr today to drive Obama, it may well be why we have seen a nations 'hope' turn sour, more war, financial crisis, loss of homes and jobs, with no external driving force, sadly it's only too easy to wain and lose direction.

        That's partly why I believe it's not time, yet...
  • Jan 12 2014: Your absolutely right about policy choices which then points to the greater problem, namely who is making those policy choices.

    As for common understanding, first consensus or at least some agreement is required and current political posturing in both the U.S. and Canada graphically illustrate the intransigence of some of the actors in that regard. Hence nothing will change in that regard until the decision making process changes. Democracy is supposed to be bottom up, not top down. Authoritarian is top down. Consensus is bottom up. Direct Democracy now.
  • Jan 12 2014: Symptoms------------------------------>Target is Compassionate society

    So,right now you have just the symptoms in your hand and your target is to make a compassionate society.

    What are you going to sacrifice for doing so ?

    Merely on the basis of symptoms you cannot diagnose and treat the problem and create a compassionate society.

    You will have to go through the three phases:

    Phase 1: Doing research and analysis to figure out the root cause of the symptoms. But don't rely too much on numbers and statistics .

    Phase 2 : Diagnose the root causes with practical and workable solutions.

    Phase 3: Continuous treatment of the root causes of the symptoms.

    We the homo sapiens or human beings have created two types of worlds , one is the world of illusion and the other is the world of reality.

    The world of illusion is very lovey dovey and world of reality is very ugly.

    People often say the we must understand others , blah blah blah. When the time comes to really understand the person then the world of reality comes into play.

    People often say that we must lend a hand to fallen person , failed person,struggling person or a person in distress, but , when face with real situation our first reaction is to kick the person and let him fallen there where he she it is.

    Another wrong concept which we often propagate and has also become a fashion is Survival of of Fittest.

    Where should those people go who not fittest or who have been percieved as unfit due to myopic vision of people ?

    Why do people commit crime ? You have to find out the root causes.

    The nucleus of Compassion is Love. Which further helps develop the capability to understand others.
  • Jan 11 2014: ou freely admit your knowledge is limited, therefore the best way to become better informed is to do the research yourself rather than expect others to do it for you.
  • Jan 11 2014: I think we need to first realize there isn't a universal answer because there isn't a universal consciousness.We're a product of our environment.

    The world isn't singular in experience, nor is it unified in belief. I feel quite simply we need to accept the futility of common understanding and seek harmony of purpose...which is the desire to find happiness in equilibrium.

    [and unfortunately words such as "our nation" immediately separates us]
  • Jan 11 2014: humans itself is a problem. the more we create the worst it comes in results. nothing can satisfiy the needs of humans. when we have it we want more.

    if 1 nation is to rule the world ( what will the world become?)
    if nothing was invented ( what will the world become?)

    goes back to stone age and think as they do. enviorment change people. people change to adept.
  • Jan 11 2014: True Universal Democracy

    Rather than the fake Corporate - Vested Interest Political Parties - Judicial Systems - United Nations = political agendas, which serve to control all of our lives; while claiming (Lying) that they serve us the people, rather than in truth, that they rule our lives; and serve on behalf of Corporate Interests.

    Which is why these days, you hear them referring to us en-mass, as being human resources, or as human capital/cattle.
  • Jan 11 2014: It will take people who take responsibility for themselves. Our nation is simply a reflection of the people within it, like it or not! So if America is bad, it is because Americans are bad. Most of my life I have been fed propaganda that Russia is bad or China is bad but I now know that there are some really beautiful, kind and gracious people in Russia, China and in America. There are also some very bad people all over the world. It is the responsibility of those good people to shine a little brighter and educate the bad people. The way to make it better for everyone is education. Diann, if you want to change something in Washington DC simply switch the Military and Education budgets! Bingo.. You will see an amazing change over night!
  • Jan 11 2014: In my opinion; money and how people view money. We worship it, truly. Think of how success in America is viewed; to be successful we have to have money, money this and money that, can't buy the latest gadgets with out it.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to say something like, 'get rid of money' or 'make the rich pay' or something along those lines. I'm not stupid, money is important, but money has it's place. It's not entirely necessary.

    Have you noticed, never before in history have so many people had so much access to what could be deemed as luxury goods? And never before in history has there been such unhappiness, pessimism or depression? Maybe that single fact lets us know that money and the things we buy with it, aren't what's important.

    Have you ever looked into a child's eyes, have you seen the innocence, the purity? Have you ever seen the joy of a soldier returning from war to his family, to the children he may be seeing for the first time? The best moments in life, the best emotions in life, compassion even; they aren't bought, sold or bargained for. One could say the happiest man or woman on earth can own nothing, make nothing and ask for nothing and yet be content with the life he/she has.

    If anything, we need to teach our children that money isn't the ultimate goal in life. Living life to it's fullest, taking every moment, the good and bad, and cherishing them, is.

    That at least is my opinion on the matter.
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    Jan 10 2014: Diann, do you seriously think there is an alternative to keeping millions of people locked up? I guess millions of people are locked up because millions of people commit crimes. If you don't lock them up, they'll commit even more crimes. What alternative do you suggest?
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      Jan 10 2014: Yes Greg there is an alternative to locking millions of people up. Few countries approach the rate and length of incarceration that we have in the US. It starts with identifying and focusing on the underlying causes of crime- and eliminating the cause and opportunity as much as possible.

      Malcom Gladwell's book, the Tipping Point, makes some interesting points about our ability to do small things that can actually have a positive impact on behavior. Worth looking at.

      Second, if we focus on addressing the harm- and making people whole, might there be another way of holding people accountable appropriately ? We might use alternative models like restorative justice or community justice. Susan Herman, book, Parallel Justice presents a brilliant description of a system of justice that is more responsive to victims because we decouple what society does for victims from what society does with people who perpetrate crimes.

      The first step is to see possibilities beyond what already is. If we make some of the changes that we are discussing-- our system of justice might look very different.

      The Sentencing Project http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm

      Is a great resource to give you a picture of the situation and the challenges we are facing with our current system.

      Thanks for asking the question-- its one of the conversations that we need to have.
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        Jan 11 2014: Diann, I think it would help me if you put some numbers on the problem you believe exists. If you look at the entire population of the United States, what percentage of people do you think are caring and nurturing enough? Do you think it's 80%? 20%? 50%? And then I suppose whatever percentage is left over is the percentage you think aren't caring and nurturing enough? I'd like to get a better feel for how big you think this problem is.
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      Jan 13 2014: There are always alternatives; they just need outside the box thinking,

      Personally I envision a radical alternative (medically induced muscle atrophy!) If the punishment for say “armed rubbery” was spending every weekend for a year in a medically induced palatalization from the neck down to induce muscle wasting it would be a bigger deterrent then the current school/gym prisons.

      With increased deterrents and options to earn a living without committing crimes, the prison population will reduce down. Thus allowing more founds per person, and thus more options to find what will work.
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        Jan 13 2014: Where do you envision this would be induced, in a prison? So people would just lie around in a weakened state every weekend? I don't know, Don, we seem to believe the body is sacrosanct, that you can't play with people's body chemistry or their physical insides. Unless the person is violent and dangerous in which case you can force them to take meds. Actually, the meds are somewhat weakening as well, but do they cause people to change in order to avoid taking them, I haven't heard of that happening.
  • Jan 10 2014: for starters it'll take a cessation of ideas such as 'our nation'.

    exactly who are 'people'? some of us think that people means everyone in the world - there is no-one who doesn't belong to the same group, but there are plenty who still regard other groups as being beneath them and not included when they talk about 'people'. not having a go at religion but it makes a good example: "people can come here to pray" doesn't mean "anyone at all is free to come here and pray".

    nations still put their own citizens above those of other countries, and so too do the people in these countries. people proudly stand up and say "i'm an american!" or "i'm a liberal!" as if that means it makes them something. the world won't get better while this mindset still exists.
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      Jan 10 2014: Your Right, the US is now a divided nation with each side loathing the other values.
      How can you be charitable to some when you’re praying for the down fall of others?

      Personally I’m ashamed of the current America; it is deadening our natural instinct to be compassionate.
      If you work hard and save so you can be charitable late in life, the media and government scorns and punishes you. And in many ways rewards those who behave badly.
      Shameful!
      • Jan 11 2014: i'm impressed that anyone can say that about their own country. these days it seems more likely that people get punished for calling things as they are, harassed for not calling a stone a beautiful rose in the name of patriotism or whatever.

        i hear what you mean about saving too. the "come on everyone spend up big for the economy!" push is ridiculous. by that rationale, everyone's salaries should be quadrupled so that they have more money to spend, right? not only are people supposed to be content with getting little, but they're then expecting to hand over as much of what they do get as possible as well.
  • Jan 9 2014: my two cents........

    the meek inherit the earth, for better or worse.
    the meek are the children.
    'tell' them accurately our true condition as humans......
    Creators AND Destroyers
    We Unite AND we Divide
    We are Peace AND We are Violence


    they might decide to change things up.
    Until then, manage the symptoms as best we can.

    There is no illness. Things are progressing quite naturally.......which involves mucho suffering, unfortunately.
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      Jan 9 2014: I get your point. There is not some perfected existence we are missing. There is joy and there is suffering. We are trying to figure out how to get more to see this is the reality. And motivate ourselves to respond to the suffering of others-- and trusting that others will respond to ours.
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        Jan 9 2014: Diann, You have described the symptoms, can you describe the source of the dis-ease / suffering / ill at ease state?
  • Jan 9 2014: Hi Diann Rust-Tierney.
    Germaine Greer said that before a human can become a moral being, they absolutely must be free. Otherwise, what they are is only submissive." I agree with her.
    Nothing in life is a moral issue & most everything doesn't have a moral nature. However, there is a moral nature in life and that is in how we treat one another. But not only one another. It's also in how we treat plants, animals, our environments, ecology, our water, air and our precious dirt.
    If we look at becoming moral as a form of healing, then I think the same would apply. In order to heal, we must be free and for me that applies to the earth's resources (what we all work for). In order to manage them morally (they aren't), they must be free to all life. They were here for that purpose.
    I have repeatedly stated on Ted that nothing costs money. Everything costs people. That things don't...."get done".........because of money. Rather, things.........."don't get done"............because of money. Money blocks us from solving our problems, from ridding our world of the evils we have become submissive to. We have had ample time to successfully do this and haven't. Recently, a friend who was watching the demonstrators in Thailand said, "where do all these people come from? Don't they have jobs?" They miss what is most important and that is that nothing is more important than changing the unjust systems we all suffer in. Americans agree things need to change and they need to do their part but in the next breath they say, "right now I've gotta go to work!" So when?
    Human needs should be human rights. All human needs are human jobs. All jobs are human needs.
    The monetary system has to go along with its needs: corruption, greed, crime, inequality, poverty, slavery, war and death.
    Any of those your needs? Whose then? Our leaders, those who profit from them. Forget the past and be condemned to repeat it? No. You cannot repeat what you cannot remember. Remember. Repeat. Just what we have done.
  • Jan 9 2014: It will happen when the capitalist market economy no longer exists, and basic human rights are given to everyone before any profit interest or speculation. I think that in this decade, after the financial crisis, we know this obsolete system is a complete failure and the earth can't sustain it, the world needs a new order, that takes care of all it citizens, with true freedom and equality.
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    Jan 8 2014: Yes. I think that is a big part of it. If that is the perspective from which you are working then the entire question changes in some ways. Helping others is then not a distraction or drain because you are helping yourself.

    Is it enough then to help more people see and recognize our inter-contentedness? What happens to the dominant narrative about human nature which is that we are hard-wired for self-preservation-- meaning the individual self?

    To go to your point earlier-- how do we take even this part of the discussion out of the realm of the philosophical and bring it back to the practical steps?
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      Jan 9 2014: Diann,
      This looks like a follow up to my last comment?

      Perhaps the question changes Diann....perhaps we need to see the question and answer in a different way.....a new perspective?

      I have never perceived helping others as a distraction or drain, because there is ALWAYS the possibility and opportunity to learn and grow with the experience.

      We are often taught and encouraged to consider our "self" ...OR...others first. If we consider our "self" first, we may be labeled selfish. If we consider others first, we may be labeled selfless.

      What is many times missing, is the fact that we can help our "self" AND others at the same time. We can learn, grow and evolve in our "self", while contributing to the whole WHEN/IF we recognize that we are ALL interconnected, and when we are genuinely interested in the process of connecting with each other.

      The practical step is simply "being" fully engaged in the process of "doing". A very simple example is my visitation to an elderly neighbor almost every day for years. I was helping her by visiting her every day, and I loved her stories about the "old days", which became repetitious as she began to have memory issues at age 92. I was still very engaged with the process of learning and growing with the experience. It would be beneficial for all of us to be more genuinely engaged with people while nurturing our "self" and each other:>)
      • Jan 9 2014: Hi Dear Colleen:),couldn't agree with you more,When we do something,not just for helping others but oursevles as well.For example,when I have classes for my students,I always can learn a lot from them while I shared my knowlege,experience with them.

        A few years ago,I lived in a community where most of residents were old people, I liked talking ,listening to them,because I found every old people did have their own stories I never experienced.I found when old people talked about their stories happened in their young age,sunbeam shinning on their faces and meanwhile sigh in their end of narration.
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          Jan 9 2014: Nice Edulover! I perceive the possibility and opportunity for us to be teachers and students in EVERY moment of the life experience...especially in interactions with other people:>)

          P.S.
          I think I owe you an e-mail...perhaps I can get to it today:>)
      • Jan 10 2014: LOL,Dear Colleen,I know your 'own' :) I got it already,very nice to read your email.I do keep learning a lot from you.Thank you.Take care:)
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          Jan 10 2014: Ok Edulover....glad you got it....we learn from each other...now you owe me one!!! LOL:>)
      • Jan 11 2014: LOL,Dear Colleen,I like to enjoy remembering ' owe you one',I don't want to urgent myself to pay you:),because I know you know me when i am wanna do that I will surely be:)
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      Jan 9 2014: A large reason people see helping others as a distraction or drain is because they are stuck in a win-loss mind set, instead of a win-win mind set.

      With some creative outside-the box thinking you can turn stuff you do for yourself into stuff that helps others Also.
      AI: replace treadmill time with snow-shoveling/mowing someone’s lawn, replace kill zombies video game with a foldit type game, etc.
      And I been planting butterfly bushes so I win via their beauty and the humming birds, butterflies, and other animals win via the food they provide them. They don’t know it but even my neighbors win, via the humming birds also eat mosquitos.
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    Jan 8 2014: Simply take the federal government out of the charity business.

    Currently the majority of US workers tax money goes towards infective charity, food-stamps, SS, Medicare, endowments for the arts, HUD, etc etc, and now the direct and indirect tax (Via increase health insurance cost) to pay for the infective charity known as affordable care act. So taxes are no longer view as supporting the government, but instead view as giving to charity.

    So the old excuse that I gave it the office is true for all.
    We simply have no more to give, I like most would love to give to effective charities but simply can’t afford to give to both the federal charities and ones I would select.
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    Jan 7 2014: Thanks Charles. There are two interesting ideas here that I get from what you have said: first that we take other human beings for granted. That in some ways out numbers numb us to the value of the unique individual. And second you are proposing that we address the problem by reducing the number which will help us see the value in the individual.

    The challenge is that the solution actually could be seen as more evidence of the problem. If some of us must be eliminated or even sacrificed for the survival of the others, have we escaped the trap of viewing others merely as fungible objects or the thing standing between me and what I want?
    • Jan 7 2014: it truly is a challange, ethics say we must find a win/win solution,
      yet biological maths say that while were confined to a single planet and fixed level of resources,even with godlike sciences were still stuck with X amount of mass to convert into stuff..

      darwin was credited with the theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest, it is also observed that herds of animals do not protect the weakest or terminally ill amongst them
      humans have and thankfully will as a sign of compassion, for how much longer who knows, not a choice id like see made in my lifetime,
      dispite 2 major world wars in the last 100 years, we have still managed to break a world total of 7 billion people and its growing faster
  • Jan 7 2014: hi, you have actually asked two questions, one with the title of your question and one with the 2nd part of the question itself, and its that i will address first, actually i wont, ill use a well known snippet to do it for me, initially.. as taken from the matrix

    Agent smith: “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague,"

    quite an apt description of the illness, its us,
    mankind as grown to such numbers that individuals dont matter, except on a morale level, did you shed a tear when 239 iraqi's died in the last month as reported on the news?... i didnt, its just a number, in actuality it meant nothing to me other than data
    were too busy working, too earn money too have stuff, too care
    -30 temps last night and police were on the news handing out cotton gloves to a homeless guy and telling him the library is open till 6 if he wants to get warm... after that he dies,becomes another statistic and this is the civilised world

    if you want to move the world to level we care about each other, treat us like a virus, remove enough that its controlable and each virus matters to the next for the survival of the species... and the resources are enough that there is no need to fight over them
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      Jan 8 2014: I would suggest that it is our inherent arrogance that is the disease, not human beings. Of course, they are both interrelated and the arrogance becomes extremely problematic when individuals and small groups are able to seize control of a nation's political decision making, namely its government. Then that arrogance is unfettered and can lead us down dangerous and costly paths for years before they can be removed and even then there is no guarantee that those who replace them will not act out in a similar fashion but with a different agenda.

      Therefore, before anything can be changed the political decision making process must change. This is why more and more people are calling for real democracy. A democracy that is bottom up and whereby those who are governed have direct input into their government's decision making processes. Direct Democracy and Liquid Democracy are examples of the form that transition might take.

      While the arrogance will probably always exist, consensus has a much better chance of overcoming or at least tempering, or moderating it than continuing to allow individuals and small groups of insiders to dominate the process with their own arrogance.