empathy

Brian E. Konkol 4-29-2013
 Dollar bill and quarters, Shipov Oleg / Shutterstock.com

Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.50 per day, Dollar bill and quarters, Shipov Oleg / Shutterstock.com

By definition, an anesthetic is a drug used to relieve pain (analgesia), relax (sedate), induce sleepiness (hypnosis), spark forgetfulness (amnesia), or to make one unconscious for general anesthesia. Anesthetics are generally administered to induce or maintain a state of anesthesia and facilitate a procedure. I believe that anesthetic can be employed as a striking image for particular deficiencies in faith-based responses to extreme poverty. 

As one can cite many examples where faith is proclaimed and practiced solely as an escape from – rather than engagement with – the numerous struggles associated with impoverishment, we recognize that anesthesia is incomplete without corresponding acts of sustainable social surgery.

...

A practical way to serve within the tension of anesthetic and advocate is to experience a small portion of life below the poverty line. The World Bank sets extreme poverty as below $1.50 per day, and I plan to stand in solidarity by attempting to eat on less than $1.50 per day over the course of five days (Monday – Friday).

Trevor Barton 3-12-2013
Chalkboard, discpicture / Shutterstock.com

Chalkboard, discpicture / Shutterstock.com

The announcement was broadcast at the end of the day over the school’s public address system.

"Our Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014 is ... Mr. Barton. Congratulations!"

I walked out into the third-grade hallway where students were lined up for dismissal. Little hands reached up and patted me on the shoulder. Small voices joined together and called out, "We're proud of you, Mr. Barton!" Alondra, a quiet student, pulled me close and said, "Thank you for being my reading teacher." I was honored and humbled.

As I walked back into my classroom, I reflected over my five years teaching at this Title I elementary school. "Who am I, what have I done, to become Teacher of the Year?" I asked myself.

Solidarity may be all but dead in our politics, but it still lives around the edges of our culture.

Brian E. Konkol 8-21-2012
Listening illustration, Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com

Listening illustration, Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com

The impact of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) is experienced with increased intensity as we approach Election Day. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions have a First Amendment right to independent political expenditures, certain portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act were reversed.

As a result, the voices surrounding political campaigns have risen in strength and size. And so, while a variety of viewpoints exist on the consequences of Citizens United, most agree that it has dramatically altered the culture of U.S. politics, and has thus sparked major discussion on the reach and limits of freedom of speech. 

Due to the ramifications of Citizens United, we should indeed recognize and critique the role that freedom of speech holds within a mature democracy. However, as we focus on free speech, the time has come to also consider the contributions of its equally important companion, the responsibility to listen. In other words, as we ponder the primary ingredients of a healthy society, the delicate balance between freedom of speech and the responsibility to listen should be held as a critical priority. 

Timothy King 12-24-2011
Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

Illustration from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." Photo by Tim King.

The Ghost of Christmas Past showed Scrooge a total of five visions. It is only the last two which are dark. The first three show the seeds of Scrooges own repentance.

The first vision shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas past is that of a young Scrooge reading alone, neglected by his peers, just before Christmas. Scrooge, watching his old self, begins to cry.

“What’s the matter?” asked the Spirit.

“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should have given him something: that’s all.”

Gareth Higgins 8-26-2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a surprising addition to the typical summer blockbuster canon -- for one thing, it manages to entertain and challenge, without resorting to gratuitous violence to make its point. But there's a deeper subtext that is even more unexpected -- for this is a story in which we start to lose.

It was fashionable in the late 1960s and early '70s for science fiction films to attempt to out-dystopia each other -- see for example the notion in Soylent Green that post-industrial humanity snacks on itself to survive, the suggestion that only robots can be trusted to look after creation in Silent Running, and the climactic revelation in the original Planet of the Apes that a few generations from now, the nuclear arms race will end in mutually assured destruction. All these point to a simple philosophical idea: that humans cannot be trusted to care for ourselves or the planet we steward.

Theresa Cho 5-13-2011

I love this photo. Exemplified in this photo is where my life as a mom and as a pastor intersect. This is the day that my daughter was baptized. I love how my son is looking up and probably wondering what is going on. My husband who is also a pastor had the joy of baptizing my son.

Theresa Cho 1-05-2011
"Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah's palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim.
Steve Holt 12-13-2010
We Americans hate to wait. Whatever we want, we want it now. Pay-per-view. One-click shopping. Smart phones. Drive-through restaurants.
Heather Wilson 8-09-2010

Ten more lives were lost in Afghanistan last week. Many people will likely say this danger is reason not to work in Afghanistan, yet I would disagree.

Alan Bean 6-10-2010
A University of Michigan study suggests that the college students of today are 40 percent less empathetic than students twenty or thirty years ago.
LaVonne Neff 12-09-2009

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--William Butler Yeats, from "The Second Coming"

Eugene Cho 10-26-2009

We often speak of 'loving our neighbors,' but it's really hard when we don't even know our neighbors. I see this to be a growing problem -- not just in the Church but our larger society. Why is it so hard to meet and grow with our neighbors?

LaVonne Neff 10-14-2009

For more than sixty years American presidents have tried to reform our health-care system, to no avail.

Jim Wallis 7-17-2009
The confirmation hearing for Judge Sonia Sotomayor this week again brings up the fundamental issues of diversity and affirmative action.
Jim Wallis 6-09-2009
Every so often, I will begin the week with a post about something that I believe deserves further reflection and comment from the God's Politics community.

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