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Empathy

the new far west
the new far west
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Tuesday, 01 March 2016

 From plowing the earth to the modern metaphor of cultivation, civilization and culture have been as close as butterflies in spring. Many of us assume that our civilization is the epitome of this union. We consider ourselves ultra-civilized – more cultivated than the Aztecs or the Visigoths or the Byzantines, or the denizens of the next country, or our fellow countrymen. In truth, we may be more advanced, but not less barbaric. The best of us recognize artistic value, can spot the false note in a classical music concert, consider salmon and avocado staples, and refrain from beating their partner and children. This is as far as our cultivation goes, which is not bad for such an aggressive species. But is our civilization – well – civilized? Unfortunately, that would also require us being less bloodsucking than our ancestors. It would mean throwing empathy into the equation.

 At this moment, there are seven thousand people stranded at the Idomeni border. People who wait for hours in line for a sandwich and a small bottle of water. There are sick people, with no medication. Without tents, in February. Thousands arrive each day at the Greek islands and the port of Piraeus, and thousands have lost their lives at sea. As the border is now closed, there are no buses to Idomeni for those who finally make it to the port. So, they walk: That’s five hundred and fifty kilometers that you can cut down to four hundred and sixty, if you follow paths instead of the highway.

But what can you do? If you won’t offer what you have in excess, if you won’t pressurize governments or awaken people in order to deal with this growing humanitarian crisis that is only bound to get worse, if you won’t stop supporting people, ideas and institutions that not only lack empathy but thrive in the multibillion-dollar business of war and devastation, then, please, just accept the truth about our civilization: We are nothing but a bunch of costume-wearing primates in a violent, power-gathering frenzy, and all the talk about evolution and beauty is just a superficial cover-up for our unchanging nature.   

 
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Tuesday, 01 March 2016 21:12
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