Bare Bones Biology 082 – Compassion

Practical compassion, energizes life-affirming behaviors. Sometimes known as win-win, practical compassion requires us to understand the needs of the others, and to use that understanding to develop mutually rewarding long-term outcomes. This is not easy when we interact with other living things that aren’t human, because many of the needs of other organisms are different from our own. That’s where science can help us out.

But, you may well say, we have given up on science. We tried it and it clearly didn’t do what we wanted. I would agree completely if we were talking about technology. We have mostly used our technology to despoil, not to affirm life. Especially in recent time. But I’m talking about science, not technology. Science doesn’t do things. Science is a method to learn about the laws of nature and how they function. To learn about light, for example, or how does energy work.

But science doesn’t do anything, therefore science does not promise anything. It simply tries to learn about the laws of nature. The laws of nature are not our responsibility. If we use our knowledge of science to do something or make something, that would be technology. It is our responsibility how we use our knowledge. There is no way that humans can change the laws of nature, but what we humans decide to do with our understanding of the laws of nature is our human responsibility, and I agree with you completely. For the most part our recent uses of technology have not been life affirming. We have failed in our responsibility.

“Nature does not forgive. It is caught in the finality of its impersonal structure.
Nature must be true to its immutable laws. When these laws are broken it must
go on down its path of uniformity.”

In this excerpt, Martin Luther King, Jr., is describing the basic law of cause and effect. For what we have done by misusing our knowledge of science, we are paying the price. We can’t stop the effects of what we have done any more than we could un-throw a rock. But we could stop throwing rocks if we are interested in growing a better future for human kind.

We could stop fighting over our ideas and start collaborating in a compassionate search for a better way of life. We could use our scientific knowledge to inform our practical compassion that I described last week
– and we could use our compassionate human values to inform the way we use our scientific knowledge.

Instead, we continue to fight over ideas. Like – what is more true – science or compassion.

What hogwash – it’s all true. We are human. We are compassionate beings. Our cultures function best when they affirm our compassionate needs. That doesn’t mean EVERYTHING functions better when we affirm our own compassionate needs. Science is not about compassion. Science is a way to study phenomena without the added confusion caused by our emotional needs.

Scoffing at religion because it centers around our emotional needs is self-defeating. Scoffing at science because it does not center around our emotional needs is also self-defeating. We can do better than either of these.

I think every scientist and every technologist should be responsible to learn and apply the basic principles of practical compassion. I also think that every person who claims to be compassionate, or caring, should be responsible to learn about the basic functions of our living world and use her understanding to inform her politics and her good works. Everyone else should do both.

Otherwise, the efforts on all sides, no matter how well intended, will end in ever more wars (OK, you call them debates) over silliness. Science versus compassion. Me versus you. Individual versus the population, and the population versus the whole living, breathing earth. And the result will continue to be lose, lose, lose, lose, lose and lose.

Bare Bones Biology 082 – Compassion
KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM
Audio will be posted later at

Let’s Fight for (whatever you want)

1. You can’t build anything positive by fighting against anything.
That is what Ghandi and the Dalai Lama and Karen Armstrong, and a number of other people are trying to get us to hear.

This is clear in all religions. Dhamapadha translated by Eknath Easwaran (I changed love and I changed hate because I have figured out that at least the Buddhists I know don’t understand what these words mean, relative to what the texts teach:

“For hostility can never put an end to hostility;
Only compassion can; this is an unalterable law.”

And the Bible — Faith Hope and Charity (changed later to love), what is the greatest of these?

2. That was the mistake of the Obama supporters. They assumed that we could “change” our culture by fighting for change.

Fighting can not change our culture because the basic root of our culture IS fighting. Unless we can change that basic root, there is no point getting all het up about wars to end all war, war against (whatever you don’t want).

3. Indeed, the corposystem is built on the worst of our human values — however — it is a terrible mistake to try to destroy the corposystem as an act of hostility.

a. The result will be dreadful suffering of the innocent; these young hero wannabes have no idea what will happen if the corposystem suddenly collapses — or possibly they WANT chaos and armageddon. Quite a few people do. like Bush2 and Osama, two of a kind, had apparently that same goal in their heads. I do not chose fighting as my heritage. If that is what I wanted — I already have it and I would be out there fighting, rather than sitting here trying to grow something positive.

b. The corposystem is going to crash all of its own accord anyway. There is no way a construct based on infinite growth can survive anyhow, so that strikes me as just another excuse to find something to fight about. Or they are so brainwashed by the system — that’s how systems
perpetuate themselves. They raise up people who can’t think of any other way to accomplish something than to do the thing they cry out against. They know something is wrong, but they don’t know anything else.

(That’s how I won my case, in part. People in power can only think of one thing. You can carry on
behind their backs and they never notice it because they don’t view it as power. The only kind of power that exists for them is the one kind of power that they understand.) That’s why my blog is about POWER to succeed.

Not power to destroy.

The only way we can change the corposystem is to save the rule of law and change it. If we the people don’t want to do that, then we can. If we can’t, then we can’t, and we should not be wasting our energy trying to do something negative that we can’t do when we can do something that will bring positive change to the future. It’s part of succeeding to not try to do something you can’t do. Now my guess is that the people who are promoting hostility ARE succeeding at THEIR goal. Which is to be heroes. I don’t care whether or not they get to be heroes, and if I waste my time trying to help them to be heroes, I am not contributing to a more positive future.

We have only one arena of power, and that is to the future. We are now on a knife-edge balance and I don’t have any idea which way it will go, but I know what side I’m putting my weight on. We can either grow a future of violence or grow some changes. Given that we are not yet suffering physically, that means we have all the more obligation to evaluate all our behaviors according to the facts on the ground (not according to what we WANT) and whether our actions arelikely to cause more suffering in the future or less suffering in the future. As the suffering is coming in any case, I believe we have a major responsibility to the future to address right now the behaviors that are and will cause more suffering in the future.

Fighting anything will only make matters worse in the future. We can’t stop the fighting unless we grow a world that is not overpopulated, but we don’t have to make up things to fight about that are also consuming more of the resources that the earth has not enough of.

As for low-energy lightbulbs — that sort of thing is a feelgood boondoggle. We don’t have to fall for all that. The main thing it does is sell lightbulbs. When I have one that burns out I’ll replace it with a better one, but that won’t solve anything. When there are more people on the earth than the resources of the earth — no matter what you buy or do is using resources and therefore is harmful in some way. To believe otherwise is exactly what the corposystem wants you to do. We can not compensate for overpopulation or corporate overgrowth by making more things to sell; we can’t compensate for it by fighting anything. The corposystem is making most of its money already by generating fights and responding to disasters that wouldn’t be disasters if we had enough land to fit all the people in reasonable healthy places. Running around fighting will only feed their maw and nourish our egos, when our best contribution would be to stay home and help to grow a positive and compassionate lifestyle for the future of the ecosystem.