Toward a More Humane Society

Heart Hands

As we say goodbye to 2013, I know many YFL readers will join me in hoping to see a wholesale societal shift toward more inclusive, humane, and compassionate living in the coming year. Last year saw more than enough divisiveness, hatred, and violence in our society for many decades.

Our Wiccan friends say that whatever energy you put out comes back to you three-fold. While I haven’t seen evidence to support that claim specifically, I share the sentiment; karma’s fairly reliable. The Hebrew teachers Jesus of Nazareth and Rabbi Hillel both taught their followers that treating other people the way one wished to be treated was the heart of true religion. The Buddha said, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Humanist writer Adam Lee, in his book subtitled Decalogue for the Modern World, wrote the following.

“Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you [is]…the single greatest, simplest, and most important moral axiom humanity has ever invented, one which reappears in the writings of almost every culture and religion throughout history, the one we know as the Golden Rule.”

Clearly, the idea is a universal human one. If you want to get 100% cerebral about it, it just makes sense: a hominid species that needs to cooperate in order to survive needs to look out for each other. Competition is inevitable, but cooperation is essential.

I’ve said in other posts that I do a lot of arguing–both online and off–and it’s true. I love dialectic; I deeply enjoy the art of disputation on substantive issues. I also try to do my best (although I sometimes miss the mark) to stick to the issue being debated, rather than devolving into ad hominem attacks on my opponent. It really is my hope that every debate “victory” is also an affirmation of civility, reciprocity and compassion. When the topic is one that makes us “think with the blood,” this can be challenging; still, it’s more than worth the effort.

I’d like to suggest that we dedicate our individual practices to the achievement of a more compassionate and humane society. It starts with each of us individually, after all: peace with oneself leads to peace in relationships, in families, in societies…which in turn leads to peace in the world. Have a splendid 2014, everyone!

Best regards,


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