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—Toward Unification

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Although we live in a dangerously divided nation in a dangerously divided world, we can find common ground. We can discover all that unites us. We can decide to converge.

All life forms discovered so far live together on our one beautiful planet, circling our sun, in our humble place in the universe. The universe is vast, yet it is all one world, and we all live together on this one planet we call Earth. All that we know of and all that we have ever experienced has emerged from the same laws of physics.

Because we all live on the same planet in the same universe, we must be able to agree on an ever-increasing set of facts that describe that universe.

Furthermore, we all share the same human nature and relate to each other along the same layers of human interaction.

We can work toward compassion and enjoy life in our one amazing world.

We can converge and enjoy an amazing future.

Objectives[edit | edit source]

This course describes a progression from isolation and fragmentation toward unification.

The objectives of this course are to assist students in:

  • Progressing from narcissism to an authentic understanding of themselves,
  • Progressing from xenophobia to compassion,
  • Progressing from being unaware to gaining an understanding of the world we live in, and
  • Converging to create an amazing future for all.

This course is part of the Emotional Competency curriculum and the Applied Wisdom curriculum.

There are no prerequisites to this course, and all students are welcome. Students may benefit by studying the companion course Knowing Someone along with this course.

We can follow these paths toward unification.

Paths Toward Unification[edit | edit source]

The diagram above provides a map that invites us to travel a path toward unification. The map is organized into three realms of knowledge. These are self-knowledge—our understanding of ourselves, other knowledge—how well we know others, and world knowledge—how well we know the world we live.  

Converging toward unification requires progression in self-knowledge, other knowledge, and world knowledge.

We begin life at the outer edge of all three realms where we are isolated, knowing little about ourselves and even less about others and the world we live in. As we learn we progress toward the center in all three realms. We make progress from isolated to fragmented as we have a variety of isolated experiences and encounter small samples of the vast universe. As we learn more, we begin to understand how we can be compatible with others and compatible with the world. As we progress, we begin to integrate our experiences and accumulated knowledge, and we begin to gain a unified understanding as we approach the center.

Below we describe each layer of increasing coherence and describe our progress in each of the three realms.

Isolated[edit | edit source]

We begin life isolated from others and the world we live in. Because we only know of ourselves, we are narcissistic. Because others are strange to us, we are xenophobic, and because we are inexperienced, we are unaware of the world we live in.

Narcissistic[edit | edit source]

Infants perceive only their own world. When they cry loving parents rush to meet their every need. What they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste is all there is. The world seems to center around them.

Infants can’t know any better, but if this self-centered and selfish view of the world persists beyond childhood it becomes a maladaptation called narcissism. Narcissism is self-love combined with an artificially inflated ego (self-image). It describes someone who holds an unwarranted, exaggerated, or unfounded positive self-image. It includes grandiosity, dominance along with a sense of entitlement, and is correlated with an often-hostile disregard for others. Narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.[1] Overcoming narcissism is the essential first step toward loving-kindness.[2]

Seeing things from your own point of view is always easier, and first-hand experiences seem more real, than understanding another's point of view can ever be. Your eyes, nose, taste buds, tactile sensors, and ears connect directly only to your brain.  Only you experience first-hand the direct sensory input of the world; you, your self, is the observer. This raw sensory input is interpreted and gains meaning through your unique perceptions and past experiences. Furthermore, contemplation, desire, intent, pain, introspection, consciousness, and reflection are all private and solitary. This unique first-person experience creates a fundamental asymmetry that contributes to many of the other asymmetries that govern social interactions. It also contributes to the asymmetric character of egotism, narcissism, selfishness, greed, and the magnitude gap.[3] We judge others based on the behavior we notice and we judge ourselves based on intent. Your own point of view, the way you see things, is unique. The golden rule and our empathy struggle to overcome this fundamental imbalance.

We influence others by changing their point of view.

An objective assessor will value one viewpoint as equal to another.

For the reasons just described, each of us tends to consider our own point of view as more complete, valid, and important than anyone else's point of view. However, each of us differs in the weight we give to our viewpoint when compared to other viewpoints. A particularly humble, considerate person may understand, appreciate, and evaluate other points of view and grant them an importance similar to their own. They weigh other points of view as heavily as they weigh their own, as in the diagram on the right.

It is typical to value our own viewpoint more than others.

It is more typical, however, to weigh your own viewpoint more heavily than others. We all have a great need for self-justification. If one person disagrees with you, perhaps you will discount that contrary viewpoint, but if two or three people express differing views, you will consider and adopt their viewpoints. This is illustrated in the second diagram on the right where several other viewpoints balance the first-person viewpoint.

Egotists value their viewpoint more than all others combined.

Egotists, and others with high self-appraisals dismiss all but overwhelming evidence contrary to their point of view. It may take tens, hundreds, or in extreme cases thousands of dissenting voices before any other point of view is considered. This extreme imbalance is shown in the third diagram on the right, where the “eye” and the “I” are just too big. Where do you strike the balance?

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Complete the Wikiversity course Coping with Ego.
  2. Seek to progress from narcissistic to interdependent.

Xenophobic[edit | edit source]

Paradoxically, although we may greatly wish to belong, we often distrust strangers.

Xenophobia is the fear or dislike of anything which is perceived as being foreign or strange. It is the perception that a conflict exists between an in-group and an out-group and it may manifest itself in suspicion of one group's activities by members of the other group, a desire to eliminate the presence of the group which is the target of suspicion, and fear of losing a national, ethnic, or racial identity.

Xenophobia results from a fear of the unknown, cultural differences, in-group identity, security concerns and other factors.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

A first step in converging is to overcome xenophobia.

  1. Study the Wikiversity course Social Skills.
    • Improve your social skills.
  2. Study the Wikiversity course Being Friends
    • Make friends.

Unaware[edit | edit source]

We are born essentially unaware of the wonderful world we live in. As infants and young children, we learn quickly about our world, but see such a small slice we are almost entirely ignorant or misinformed about the world.

Eventually our curiosity is armed with language, reasoning, exploration opportunities, number skills, and reading skills. Now we can ask our own questions and seek our own answers. Certain questions are off limits, myths and traditions may present falsehoods as facts, trusted people may disagree on the answers to certain questions, or we may accept the first answer we hear. Formal schooling, self-study, adventures, and life experiences combine to increase our information base. Some of that information is factual, and some is false, incomplete, invalid, or misleading.

Fragmented[edit | edit source]

As we progress from our isolation, we learn about people one at a time and our world one experience at a time. We are learning but our experiences are fragmented and lack integration.

Interdependent[edit | edit source]

Interdependent people have significant interactions with others, especially with peers. These interactions often begin with playmates. You begin to notice that Jimmy runs slower than you, but Johnny runs faster.  You win at card games when you play against Sally, but Sarah often wins when she plays. Hollie certainly sings better than you do, but you are a bit quicker at solving number puzzles. By objectively comparing your skills with those of your peers you begin to notice your strengths and shortcomings and can begin appreciating the talents of others. How you explain to yourself his winning and your losing is significant. You may rely on an elaborate jumble of excuses, or you may objectively assess your strengths relative to others. Relationships begin to form, friends are chosen, and your worldview expands to include those friends. You are no longer at center stage.

As we begin to associate with others and form more intricate relationships with them, we begin to challenge the assumptions that our narcissism depends on.

Interdependence begins to create a tension between narcissism and objectivity. When the expectation that “you are here to help me” begins to mature into “we are here to help each other” the transformation from narcissism to interdependent begins.

Assignment[edit | edit source]

To progress from narcissistic to interdependent engage in significant interactions with others, especially your peers. Objectively assess your performance compared to the performance of your peers. Notice what tasks you are truly best at and where others perform better than you. You are likely to notice that for any skill you analyze, you perform better than some people do, and some people perform better than you do. Begin to objectively assess your own strengths and shortcomings. Decide what talents you want to work to develop, and what ones you can leave undeveloped.

Fundamental to interdependence is the recognition that your freedom ends and mine begins.

Work to understand others’ experiences and point of view, as described in this poem.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins

Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.

If just for one hour, you could find a way

To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.[4]

Curious[edit | edit source]

People are naturally curious.

Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident in humans and animals. Curiosity is associated with all aspects of human development, from which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill.

Curiosity as a behavior and emotion is the driving force behind human development, including developments in science, language, and industry.

”I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me.”

As we encounter other people, we become curious about them. We may notice that we share human nature even with strangers. We may rediscover the similarities that prompted the ancient playwright Terence  to proclaim, “I am human, and nothing human is alien to me.” As a result, our xenophobic stance begins to soften; we become less fearful and somewhat closer to other people.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

Notice other people and become curious about them.

  1. Adopt a growth mindset,
  2. Improve your social skills.
  3. Connect with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and professions.
  4. Ask people questions. It may help to begin with the phrases “I noticed … and I was wondering …”
  5. Ask people about themselves with questions such as: What is your story? Where are you from? What do you enjoy doing? What brings you here? And then listen.
  6. Travel.

Misinformed[edit | edit source]

Misinformed people don't know what they don't know. They mistake falsehoods, misunderstandings, misconceptions, opinions, myths, legends, hearsay, rumors, gossip, and propaganda for established fact. Misinformed people often accept an untrue, incomplete, simplistic, or misleading answer as true rather than recognizing—or at least admit—they don't know the answer.

Misinformed people are often trapped in their own false beliefs and unhelpful rules and too often they are determined to rigidly defend and propagate these falsehoods. They commit, overlook, and often propagate common fallacies such as false dilemma, ad hominem attacks, and overgeneralization. They are often trapped by their need for self-justification and confirmation bias—the strong human tendency to dismiss or distort evidence contrary to our beliefs and readily seek out evidence that supports their views.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

We are all remarkably ignorant. What differentiates the misinformed from the factually informed person is awareness of our own ignorance, the humility required to open up to new ideas, the courage to say “I don't know” or “I was mistaken” and the curiosity, motivation, and discipline to always continue to learn.

Misinformed people are at the unconscious incompetence learning level.  Work toward becoming factually informed by taking these steps:

  • Recognize and acknowledge your own limitations:
  • Become curious about the wonderful and diverse world we all live in:
    • Listen to and learn from people who have ideas and experiences different from your own.
    • Increase your skillful use of inquiry, evidence, and argument.
    • Expect intellectual honesty.
    • Learn to adopt a neutral point of view on disputed topics and unanswered questions.
  • Know how you know:
  • Increase your literacy:
    • Improve your reading skills.
    • Read, read, read more! Explore a variety of topics from a variety of viewpoints.
    • Favor reliable sources.
  • Increase your numeric skills:
  • Research, analyze, and verify what you want to learn from a variety of reliable sources.
    • Learn about a variety of topics from reliable sources such as the local library, or Wikipedia.
    • Learn about logical deduction, logical inference, statistical inference, and logical fallacies.
  • Increase the breadth and depth of your real-world experiences.
    • Explore the world.
    • Visit well-curated museums.
    • Travel. Meet new and interesting people.
    • Embark on adventures. Have fun.
  • Continue your formal education, perhaps exploring in new directions.
    • Complete your present school program, if any.
    • Get your GED, High School Diploma, College Degree, or Graduate Degree.
    • Take classes at your local community college.

Quotations:[edit | edit source]

  • “The thing to do, when you don't know, is not to bluff and not to freeze, but to learn.” ~ Donella H. Meadows.
  • “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

Compatible[edit | edit source]

As we progress from fragmentation we are beginning to make connections and comprehend a more unified concept of the world. We notice isolated, yet important, compatibilities between people, knowledge, and events.

Humble and Vulnerable[edit | edit source]

The sun shines with equal brightness on each of us. It shines no more brightly on you, and just as importantly, it shines on you as brightly as others. Humility is the realization that although we are each very special, we are nobody special.

Humility requires us to exercise our dignity without drifting into vanity.

At its core, humility is openness to learning. It is deciding that facts are more real and more important than ego. It is the opposite of ego involvement. It is the decision to overcome the asymmetry of our first-person viewpoint. Humility is recognizing that what matters to you really is as important as what matters to me. Humility provides balance to our confidence.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

  1. Study the Wikiversity module on the virtue of humility.
  2. Become authentically humble.

Getting closer to someone requires us to lower our mask, end the pretense, become genuine, and expose our vulnerabilities.

We are vulnerable whenever we expose ourselves to harm or risk failure. This may be when applying for a job, asking her out on a date, appearing in public with a new hairstyle, asking to borrow the car, contacting a sales prospect, submitting a manuscript for publication, giving a speech, inviting someone to dinner, or any of hundreds of other small, and not so small, risks. Perhaps the core risk is the fear of personal rejection, the fear of not being worthy of connection.

Exposing interpersonal vulnerability—behavior that risks disapproval from another—is the key to intimacy.[5] Partners over time engage more frequently in those expressions of vulnerability that are safe in the relationship than in those that are not. Vulnerable behavior can include expressing emotions, sharing details of painful or embarrassing events, sharing personal pain or private thoughts such as fears, worries, anxieties, embarrassments, failures, disappointments, and confusions. Intimate relationships are built by progressing through a series of increasingly vulnerable disclosures or actions with a partner.[5] If these disclosures are reinforced the relationship becomes more intimate. If they are discouraged, rejected, or punished, the intimacy of the relationship suffers.

But we must be comfortable with our vulnerability before we can let our true selves been seen and begin to love with our whole heart.[6]

The paradox of vulnerability is this: to become worthy of connection, we must overcome our fear of rejection, our fear of being unworthy of connection.

One expression of vulnerability is apologizing when we have offended someone.

“You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength” ~ attributed to Cesare Pasese

We embrace our vulnerability when we realize that I am imperfect, and I am worthy of love. What I am is enough, and I am worthy. We become aware of, comfortable with and honest with our shortcomings as well as our strengths.

Exposing vulnerability is an act of courage.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

Begin by taking a modest risk. If no harm occurs, then continue taking similar risks.

Especially important to developing intimacy is interpersonal vulnerability. Begin by disclosing some minor discomfort, embarrassment, or failure to a friend or (potential) partner. Notice if this disclosure is respected, welcomed, and encouraged or if it is discouraged, ridiculed, punished, or a breach of trust is threatened. Continue disclosure at a modest rate, based on a positive response including reciprocation, or refrain based on a negative response.

Have the courage and courtesy to apologize when you have offended someone.

Tolerant and Empathetic[edit | edit source]

Tolerance is a patience toward a practice or opinion you disapprove of.  Tolerance is being agreeable—listening carefully and treating the person with dignity and respect—while you disagree. You continue a critical analysis of all you know and believe to be true, in light of the different viewpoint expressed by the person you disagree with. In the best case each of you has learned from the other. In the end you may or may not be persuaded, yet because of your tolerance the relationship has been strengthened by your dialogue, not eroded by obstinacy or mistrust. Without disagreement there is not tolerance, only affirmation. As Voltaire famously said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Although tolerance creates a tension between what you prefer and what you are willing to put up with, it is often necessary as we work to engage in civil behavior.

Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.[7] But while tolerance is essential in the realm of opinion, it has no place in the realm of fact.[8] Discerning the distinction between fact and opinion—the essential skill of tolerance—can be difficult. It requires us to apply a robust theory of knowledge to reliably increase our world knowledge.

Tolerance is a prerequisite to exercising the liberties of free speech and freedom of religion. Tolerance preserves the dignity of each person as it accommodates and explores a rich diversity in ideas, cultures, and beliefs through civil discourse and  dialogue. Tolerance promotes learning because, as John Stuart Mill tells us:[9] “received opinion may be wrong and the heretic right.” Robin Barrow cautions us that: “It is partly because there are limits to what we can be sure about in the moral domain that tolerance and freedom are virtues.” Adopting an open mind represents a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge through dialogue.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

  1. Study the Wikiversity module on the virtue of tolerance.
  2. Tolerate what you cannot change, and work to change what you cannot tolerate.

Empathy is generally described as the ability to take on another's perspective, to understand, feel and possibly share and respond to their experience. There are other definitions of empathy that include social, cognitive, and emotional processes primarily concerned with understanding others.

The capacity to empathize is a valuable societal trait. Empathy is considered a motivating factor for unselfish, prosocial behavior, whereas a lack of empathy is related to antisocial behavior.

Apart from the automatic tendency to recognize the emotions of others, one may also deliberately engage in empathic reasoning. Such empathic engagement helps an individual understand and anticipate the behavior of another. Two general methods have been identified: An individual may mentally simulate fictitious versions of the beliefs, desires, character traits, and context of another individual to see what feelings this provokes. Or an individual may simulate an emotional feeling and then analyze the environment to discover a suitable reason for the emotional feeling to be appropriate for that specific environment.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

  1. Study the Wikiversity module Mastering the Social Skill of Empathy.
  2. Compete the Wikiversity course Subjective Awareness.
  3. Increase your empathy.
  4. Practice empathy.

Factually Informed and Knowing[edit | edit source]

Factually informed people are curious, humble, skeptical, rational, and inquisitive. They not only know what they know but also how they know it. They know the limits of their own knowledge and carefully investigate what they don't yet know.  They are skillful researchers, critical thinkers, and they enjoy exploring mysteries. They are interested in the world and love learning. They are literate, well read, and analytically skillful. They rely on a wide variety of reliable sources to rigorously verify information. They know the limits of evidence, the rules logic, and they identify and dismiss logical fallacies and investigate and resolve factual discrepancies. Factually informed people identify and examine assumptions and investigate rather than pass on rumors and gossip. They have good judgment and are open minded. They are cautious in assigning blame, are comfortable with complexity, and recognize that many factors contribute to each outcome. They often have extensive real-world experiences and may be well educated. They combine formal education with self-study and life experiences to learn throughout their lives. They apply their well-developed theory of knowledgeto carefully decide what to believe and what to dismiss. Learning is fun for factually Informed people.

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Study the courses in the Wikiversity Clear Thinking Curriculum.
  2. Think clearly.
  3. Become factually informed.

Knowing is the ability to weave facts together to describe and comprehend a coherent system. Facts are considered in context, combined, and integrated to provide new insight. A key skill is systems thinking—analyzing interconnections among elements (parts, components) making up the whole. This provides the ability to know something thoroughly and to perceive its relationships to certain other ideas, facts, and concepts. Knowing allows conclusions to be reliably drawn. Knowing gathers facts and puts them to work solving problems.

The ability to integrate information and “connect the dots” to get a larger and consistent understanding of the world becomes important. You gain confidence that the system model is correctly structured and integrated when it remains consistent as you drill down to examine more detail and frame up to consider a larger scope and variety of reference frames and dynamics. Falsehoods and fallacies become easier to detect and reject. Inconsistencies become apparent and careful investigation begins to reveal larger and more durable truths about our fascinating world. We are better able to assimilate diversity, learn from ambiguity, suspend judgment, and become comfortable with complexity. These skills allow us to integrate factual information with our own investigations, knowledge base, and worldview as we begin to truly know the world for ourselves.

In addition, a sense of justice begins to mature. Knowing people think more clearly about fairness and equity and perhaps as a result they readily fulfill duties as family members, team members, organization members, and citizens. Knowing people naturally demonstrate their leadership.

Knowing people are skillful researchers and critical thinkers who focus on interconnections by exploring mysteries, investigating loose ends, and solving problems. They are literate, well read, analytically skillful, practically experienced, inquisitive, ingenious, original, and creative. They readily spot inconsistencies and investigate to resolve them. They are always trustworthy and candid. They rely on a wide variety of reliable sources to rigorously verify information. They are both street smart and book smart. They know the limits of evidence, the rules logic, and they identify and resolve logical fallacies. They follow threads, close loops, and investigate and resolve factual discrepancies. They understand cause and effect. They combine formal education with self-study and life experiences to learn throughout their lives, think for themselves, and make original contributions. Investigating mysteries and solving problems is fun for people who know.

Assignment:[edit | edit source]

  1. Undertake the suggested learning opportunities in the What Is section of the Living Wisely curriculum.
  2. Become more factually informed.
  3. Dismiss disinformation and misinformation.

Unified[edit | edit source]

As we are becoming unified, we are seeing more patterns and connections. We notice similarities that become apparent as we begin to observe and comprehend from a broader frame of reference. We are comprehending the world at a more unified level.

Authentic[edit | edit source]

Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions.[10] An authentic choice is a decision congruent with doing your best.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

The words authentic, genuine, real, and veritable all describe actual rather than false or misrepresentation. Other synonyms include accurate, actual, certain, dependable, factual, faithful, genuine, original, pure, reliable, sure, true, trustworthy, trusty, and valid.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Several characteristics separate the authentic from the counterfeit, bogus, or phony. These include:

  1. True; Fully trustworthy as according to fact. This includes being representative of the larger context, relevant to the matters in hand, transparent and straightforward, and logically valid conclusions and inferences. Truth corresponds to reality.
  2. Original, not a substitute. Actually and exactly what is claimed. Originating from within.
  3. Congruence; agreement, harmony, fit, integration, alignment, consistency, as described.
  4. Depth, the closer it is examined the better in looks, more intricate, more subtle, more detailed, more elegant, more interesting.
Stradivarius violins are valued for their authenticity.

As a result, authentic items often hold a unique and enduring value that often increases as time goes on.

Authentic choices include these important additional human characteristics:

1.     Authentic feelings. Because emotions are an intrinsic part of human nature, to be true and congruent, authentic choices acknowledge our true feelings. Embrace passion.

2.     Symmetry; apparent balance. Acknowledging the dignity of each person requires the equal treatment that can only come from a symmetrical view of the world. This begins with establishing peer relationships rather than power-based relationships. It extends to include empathy, dialogue, respect, reciprocity, and the responsibility to accept blame, apologize, and forgive. Lack of balance often indicates contrived and phony constructs.

3.     Doing your best. Anything less does not fully represent the true you. Give your authentic effort.

Authentic often unfolds as a profound simplicity is revealed. This is a rich and elegant simplicity that suddenly unifies and strengthens what appeared to be disparate, complex, divergent, inconsistent, convoluted, and chaotic. This authentic simplicity is not shallow, superficial, or simplistic; it is the essential core. So much falls into place and feels right. The authentic alternatives described below provide several examples.

Authentic Alternatives[edit | edit source]

What are the authentic alternatives available to us? How can we distinguish authentic from phony?

Wise, not Foolish, Gullible, or Obstinate[edit | edit source]

Wise, thoughtful, and deliberate decisions and well-chosen beliefs are more authentic than the foolish decisions made by gullible people. Inquisitive and prudent people use a robust theory of knowledge to choose their beliefs. They are vigilant, scrupulous, meticulous, and diligent. As the issue is investigated more deeply, more evidence supporting it is uncovered.

Foolish people are gullible, they fall for anything, and these suckers are easily duped. Obstinate people are unreasonably stubborn. They dismiss or distort evidence that contradicts their arbitrarily chosen beliefs and viewpoint. Self-justification is more important to them than evidence. More thorough investigation eventually reveals inconsistencies and errors.

Beliefs, not Assumptions[edit | edit source]

Beliefs are well founded and based on well-researched and representative evidence. Firm beliefs are authentic, enduring, accurate and helpful. They have endured and been refined by the challenges of skepticism. An assumption is an unfounded belief. Assumptions are unchallenged, unquestioned, unexamined, and very often untrue. Choose evidence over assumption, rumor, innuendo, or speculation.

Valid, not Invalid[edit | edit source]

Deductive logic provides rules for drawing valid conclusions from stated premises. The accuracy of the conclusion depends on both the factual accuracy of the premises and the validity of the logic used to draw the conclusion. Inductive logic provides rules for estimating the probability of general conclusions drawn from a set of evidence. Other conclusions are invalid and are based on one or more of a vast number of common logical fallacies. Learn to distinguish valid conclusions from invalid conclusions. Only valid conclusions are authentic, the invalid conclusions are bogus.

Purposeful, not Aimless[edit | edit source]

People don't look back over their lives and think “I just wish I had spent more time at the office.” What is important to you? How do you plan to spend your life? What values have you chosen? What matters to you? What is guiding you? Treat every living moment as precious and spend it wisely and deliberately in meaningful ways, including a balance of time spent: working, relaxing, contemplating, learning, exploring, playing, visiting, bonding, celebrating, planning, reflecting, helping, accepting help, dialoging, walking, exercising, sleeping, and dreaming. Don't waste time drifting among pointless, meaningless, haphazard, or destructive activities. Live deliberately.

Candor, not Deception[edit | edit source]

Express yourself authentically, don't deceive. Practice candor and reject decrees, insults, blather, cryptic exchanges, dry and boring words, and lies.

Trust, not Manipulation[edit | edit source]

Be reliable. Say what you mean, and do what you say. Become trustworthy and extend trust to others consistent with grace and good judgment. Avoid manipulations—actions taken prior to gaining trust where you try to control others without revealing your intent.  

Needs, not Wants[edit | edit source]

Needs are few, simple, often attainable, and richly satisfying. Wants and desires are ever increasing, unbounded, often unsatisfying, and move constantly out of reach. Attain all your needs before pursing your infinite wants. Avoid the greed that leads to endlessly chasing insatiable wants and desires. Reject the insatiable tyranny of more. Instead, appreciate the many aspects of progress that don't rely on growth. There can be more to life than more; know when you have enough. Focus on what matters. Take what you need and leave the rest.[11]

Gratification, not only Hedonism[edit | edit source]

Gratification is that deeply satisfying combination of pride and pleasure that only results from hard work and meaningful accomplishment. Hedonism is the momentary pleasure resulting from various pleasant indulgences. Gratification is difficult, and worth the effort. Hedonism is easier. Balance gratification and hedonism in your life.

Nimble, not Stubborn or Helpless[edit | edit source]

Know what you can change and accept what you cannot change. Don't stubbornly waste time and energy on futile efforts trying to change what you cannot. Be nimble and change what you can to live consistently with your well-chosen values and goals. Don't be helpless when you can take steps to improve. Don't overreact, don't under react.

Thou, not It[edit | edit source]

Recognize the full richness and extent of the humanity we all share. Respect our humanity. Recognize the dignity—the intrinsic humanity and worth of yourself and all others. Each of us deserves to be respected and treated as thou—a fellow human being. No one deserves the dehumanization and disrespect of being treated as it—an object.

Inclusion, not Exclusion[edit | edit source]

Measure yourself by who you include, not by who you exclude. Our similarities greatly outweigh our differences. Choose compassion and empathy over hate.

Intrinsic, not Extrinsic motives[edit | edit source]

Intrinsic motives reflect our most authentic decisions. Exercise autonomy, dismiss introjected regulations, and choose carefully among the extrinsic motives available. Let thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions originate deep from within and be true and secure enough to resist destructive external pressures. The result is a genuine, quiet, deep, vitalizing, serene, and lasting fulfillment and confidence without anxiety, self-doubt, or other sources of stress.

Confront, don't Ignore problems[edit | edit source]

Problems exist whether or not we face up to them. You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Identify the problems that create obstacles to your constructive pursuits and important relationships. Explore and analyze the essential elements of the most salient problems. Confront those problems by identifying them, defining them, analyzing them, and creating constructive solutions. Take action to confront and transcend conflict, don't ignore problems or deny facts.

Compassionate[edit | edit source]

Compassionate people are unconditionally kind to all. They are generous, forgiving, tolerant, respectful, and warm. They are especially sensitive, sincere, gentle, and open-hearted as they engage another person in one-on-one contact. They detach themselves from destructive emotions—just noticing it pass by—without being consumed by the emotion. They seek what is—an accurate perception of reality—and know that destructive emotions are only fleeting distortions of our perception of reality. This allows them to be restrained, non-violent, influential, serene, and at peace. Compassionate people are humans being, not just humans doing.

But compassionate people are not pushovers, wimps, victims, or doormats. They access their deep self-esteem and are self-reliant, responsible, and willful. To maintain harmony in relationships they are candid and express their innermost concern about what has transpired. They say what they mean, and do so with compassion, even when delivering a difficult message. Do not mistake their kindness for weakness.

Compassionate people seem enlightened and particularly joyous, perhaps as a result of their contemplation practices. An excellent example is Dr. Matthieu Ricard who is a molecular geneticist, Buddhist monk, author, translator, and photographer sometimes described as the happiest person in the world. He has spent more than 10,000 hours meditating. At the University of Wisconsin, fMRI scans were performed on the frontal lobes of his brain. The tests confirmed that he and other long-time meditators showed more evidence of positive emotions on the left side of their brains, and lower-than-average levels of negative emotions on the right. This scientific evidence supports what others around him already knew: he radiates calm and compassion.

Compassionate people are uncommon. They seem to achieve this remarkable level of calm, peace, and compassion through extensive practice of various disciplined forms of meditation.

Assignment[edit | edit source]

  1. Study the Wikiversity course on Moral Reasoning.
  2. Study the Wikiversity module on the virtue of compassion.
  3. Read the essay toward compassion.
    • Imagine how it can be if we worked toward compassion.
  4. Practice compassion meditation.
  5. Deliberately practice feeling compassion for various people in your life, especially people you find difficult or who seem different from yourself.

Understanding—Knowing why[edit | edit source]

People who understand have extensive knowledge, keen insight, contemplate options from multiple viewpoints, have well developed human-focused values, and make decisions based on their significant purpose of improving well-being for all people.  They are fully aware not only of the meaning of something but also of its world-wide and long-term implications. Their essential insight is the understanding that all humans, with all of their diversity, are citizens of this one world.

Holistic understanding requires interpreting knowledge from an enduring global perspective. What are the full implications, good and bad, now and long into the future, for us and for all of them, here and way over there, intended and unintended, obvious and subtle, of this fact, or this plan, or this action, or this decision?  What insights can we gain? Who are all the people who will be affected by this? What do they have to say about this? How can this impact human well-being? People who understand not only find out what, but they find out why. They often have extensive real-world experiences and may be well educated. They combine formal education with self-study and life experiences to learn throughout their lives. They creatively apply this abundance of knowledge to generate alternatives and find optimal solutions to difficult problems.

People with holistic understanding exhibit several strengths that transcend themselves. While anyone can appreciate beauty and savor the awe of nature, people with holistic understanding have a particularly deep appreciation of aesthetics, beauty, and excellence. They are grateful, hopeful, and while they are concerned about the future, they are also optimistic about the possibilities. They have a sense of purpose that may originate from a deeply felt spirituality. They are forgiving and merciful, playful and witty. They have a zest and passion for life.

When we can reflect on our reliable and broad knowledge, exercise good judgment, and apply it to solve significant problems to enhance human well-being we begin to understand the world as it is. Examining knowledge from multiple viewpoints, adopting a global perspective and long-term view, understanding interrelationships, and gaining insight all contribute to our holistic understanding of the world. Being curious about what happened, creative about what can happen, and open to new possibilities allows us to make surprisingly good decisions that benefit all.

One World[edit | edit source]

We all live in this one world!

All life forms discovered so far live together on our single planet, circling our sun, in our humble place in the universe. The universe is vast, yet it is all one world, and we all live together on this one planet we call Earth. All that we know of, all that we have ever experienced has emerged from the same laws of physics. Remarkably, the entire world as we know it has emerged from those fundamental building blocks.

Because we all live on the same planet in the same universe, we must be able to agree on an ever-increasing set of facts that describe that universe.

Furthermore, we all share the same human nature and relate to each other across the same layers of human interaction.

We can find common ground.

We can work toward compassion and enjoy life in our one precious world.

Assignment[edit | edit source]

To increases your self-knowledge, study the Wikiversity courses:

  1. Unmasking the True Self,
  2. Emotional Competency,
  3. What Matters,
  4. Clarifying values, and
  5. Subjective Awareness.

To increase your knowledge of others, study courses in the Wikiversity Coming Together curriculum. The courses Moral Reasoning,  Finding Common Ground and Real Good Religion can be especially helpful.

To increase your knowledge of the world we live in, study the courses in the Wikiversity Clear Thinking Curriculum, and undertake the suggested learning opportunities in the What Is section of the Living Wisely curriculum.

Follow the wise path.

Seek real good.

Live wisely.

Recommended Reading[edit | edit source]

Reading and studying these books will begin to improve your compassion:

  • Fromm, Erich (August 6, 2019). The Art of Loving. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. pp. 192. ISBN 978-0061129735. 
  • Ricard, Matthieu (January 5, 2007). Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 302. ISBN 978-0316167253. 
  • Dalai Lama. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. Riverhead Books. pp. 336. ISBN 978-1573227544. 
  • Goleman, Daniel (March 30, 2004). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Bantam. pp. 448. ISBN 978-0553381054. 
  • Ekman, Paul (March 31, 2009). Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion. Holt Paperbacks. pp. 288. ISBN 978-0805090215. 

Learning from these books will help you to Know:

  • Gause, Donald C.; Weinberg, Gerald M. (March 1, 1990). Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is. Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 176. ISBN 978-0932633163. 
  • Gause, Donald C.; Weinberg, Gerald M. (September 1, 1989). Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design. Dorset House Publishing Company. p. 320. ISBN 978-0932633132. 
  • von Oech, Roger (2008). A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative. Business Plus. pp. 256. ISBN 978-0446404662. 
  • Michalko, Michael (June 8, 2006). Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques. Ten Speed Press. pp. 416. ISBN 978-1580087735. 
  • Senge, Peter M. (March 21, 2006). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization. Doubleday. pp. 445. ISBN 978-0385517256. 

Reading these books will increase your understanding.

  • Brown, Lester R. (October 5, 2009). Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 384. ISBN 978-0393337198. 
  • Zander, Rosamund Stone (September 24, 2002). The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Penguin Books. pp. 240. ISBN 978-0142001103. 
  • Kidder, Rushworth M. (1994). Shared Values for a Troubled World: Conversations with Men and Women of Conscience. Jossey-Bass. pp. 332. ISBN 978-1555426033. 
  • Goleman, Daniel (March 30, 2004). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Bantam. pp. 448. ISBN 978-0553381054. 

References[edit | edit source]

  1. I and Thou, by Martin Buber
  2. {{cite book |last=Fromm |first=Erich |author-link=w:Erich_Fromm |date=August 6, 2019 |title=The Art of Loving  |publisher=Harper Perennial Modern Classics |pages=192 |isbn=978-0061129735}}
  3. The magnitude gap is the difference in outcome between the perpetrator and the victim - the victim loses more than the perpetrator gains.
  4. Judge Softly, 1895 poem by Mary T. Lathrap
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cordova, James & Scott, Rogina. (2001). Intimacy: A Behavioral Interpretation. The Behavior analyst / MABA. 24. 75-86. 10.1007/BF03392020.
  6. The power of vulnerability, June 2010, TED Talk, Brené Brown
  7. Declaration of principles on tolerance: adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its twenty-eighth session, Paris, 16 November 1995
  8. Comte-Sponville, André   (2002). A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life. Picador. pp. 368. ISBN 978-0805045567. 
  9. Socratic Citizenship, by Dana Villa. Chapter 2.
  10. Much of this section was adapted from the website page on Authentic Choice, with permission of the author.
  11. Inspired by the lyrics to the song The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.