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  • Writer's pictureCrone

The motes in my eyes

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

More ponderings at the hallowed place.

1) I thought about the sacred. This being consecrated ground - and still used as a graveyard. So, what I that was that we see death as BAD and everlasting life through belief in God as GOOD. and that the concept of the sacred incorporates both the BAD and the GOOD. I think it always does. It is always that which may overwhelm or over take us but also may inspire and revive us. It is the simultaneity of loss of self and gain of... something other. It should be, at any rate, an acceptance of the bothness of experience... that wisdom has to be about aging. That the vitality of youth has to include a certain frailty.


But what we do is hold up the good as everything and the bad as nothing and we try to separate them. But we cannot. We cannot. What is sacred is always double-sided. All that is precious has to be equally terrible.


And there is no balancing it out into mediocrity and greyness, no. What marks out the sacred is the equal extremity of the both and the tensile strength of the bond between them. To be alive is to die.


The other thing we do, another act of insanity, is to divest everyday life of the sacred. It's no wonder there is allegedly a "crisis of meaning"! It is because we divorce existence from all that truly matters - and what truly matters is the sacred. It is bound into every moment yet we ignore it. Every moment we are alive, but closer to death. Every moment the magic of photosynthesis and respiration occur. Every moment there is some hungry kestrel killing a shrew and some wasp eating a caterpillar from within. Every moment a leggy newborn takes her first steps and finds her mother's milk. Every moment a seed germinates. There is flight. There are sound-waves traveling through the seas. There is navigation using the stars and the earth's magnetism.


Because none of this is sacred to us, because it is too ordinary, we feel ourselves to be more important. We feel that our free speech and our consumer choices somehow matter more than the coming into being of a tardigrade.


If we drew the sacred into the everyday and out of the boxes into which we have put it (religion, human dignity, the abstract weavings of our dextrous minds), we would worship the ground we walk upon.


2) That, whatever Paul Bloom says, emotional - rather than cognitive - empathy matters.


I heard Sam Harris talk about how much better it is to give to a charity that will save many lives rather than invest the same sum in an emotionally alluring cause whose results will be less effective - this is the tenet of the Effective Altruism movement. (They do, to be fair, now also consider animals but - and these are big buts - animal charities do not even feature among their child organisation's best causes and they have now become hung up on insects - who matter - yet in their view they complicate the maths because of course a human is worth x number of animals and then an animal is worth many x insects.... it all comes down to cognition... but I can't engage with that right now.)


Here's the thing: these rational cognitive calculations begin with an emotional belief - whatever anyone tells you, for nothing can prove it - that human life matters most because we are the smartest beings on this planet. An absurd view if one considers that we are the only beings who have ever threatened to destroy this planet. So much for smarts. But also it's just a feeling we have that we matter more than anything else and then we go ahead and justify it with philosophy. Like that actually impacts reality. It hardly even impacts humans. Advertising is far more persuasive.


So why am I saying that emotional empathy matters? Because if you look at a wren coming from her nest, so fucking TINY, to within six feet of a real threat (me) and perching there to warn me away from her babies, if you have any heart at all, you will see that she is going to greater extremes to protect her young than the vast majority of humans ever have to and that she has no doubts at all. Once you see that, and understand, in your heart, how much her chicks matter to her, whether she thinks of it or just acts doesn't matter, then how the hell could you ever harm a wren?


It's not about working out how many wrens are worth the life of a baby. It's about not harming the goddamn wren.


3) We do not have motes in our eyes when it comes to our importance, we have fucking FORESTS. If only we protected the living ones as well as we protected our self-serving delusions of grandeur.

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maplekey4
11 ago 2023

Good arguments for emotional empathy. Good examples - that mother wren. Thank you.

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