All posts by the Educating Gossip

Advocate, educator, inspirational speaker.

Aid in Dying Under Review

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is releasing a document with serious ramifications for the rights of patients across the board. End-of-life healthcare policy is a major looming issue in guarding democracy against the disturbing side effects of supercapitalism. It’s time to understand and face the social and economic consequences of our decisions.

US: Catholic Church Amps Up Its Fight Against Aid in Dying

churchandstate.org.uk

Published on 15 June by

via Educating Gossip.

Did You Hear? Democracy Needs Trustworthy and Impartial Information|the Educating Gossip™

Feel It, Love It!

Ohhh this makes me feel sad but also more determined

“Gone with the Papers,” written by Chris Hedges ( http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/gone_with_the_papers_20110627/)  noted: 

 “We are losing a peculiar culture and an ethic. This loss is impoverishing our civil discourse and leaving us less and less connected to the city, the nation and the world around us.”  And also, “A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth, when civic discourse is grounded in verifiable fact.”

The writer holds passionate beliefs about the role of a free and impartial press especially now as “[T]he increasing fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind.”  Powerful stuff.  Love It!

Teachable Moment: Moral Panics, Anthony Weiner and Seal Team Six Insights

Can we separate political ethics and morality from personal ethics and morality?  This seems to be the question America has been struggling with for some time.   “Moral panics” are what George Lakoff refers to them in his book The Political Mind Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain.

America likes to gossip about the personal details of a public person’s life—the more outrageous, the more perplexing, and the more morally confounding the better. Such talk is considered “juicy” and America could talk about it all day long.

Representative Anthony Weiner is at the center of the current moral panic.  Should he resign?  Should his wife divorce him?  Can he be trusted as an official elected to represent the voters of New York?  Is he “true” to them?  And if he indeed walks his political talk, should his actions within his marriage matter?  Can we separate his morals and his ethics?

We can make a distinction between the two that I think is useful.  Ethics refers to a theory or system that describes what is good and, by extension, what is evil.  Morals refer to the rules that tell us what to do or not to do.  Morality divides actions in to right and wrong.

Ethics are more theoretically focused:  How do we judge white-collar crime versus violent crime?  How do we allocate health care when demand and costs out strips resources?  Mythology and theology are the oldest sources of ethics, though philosophical systems are often more discussed today.

Ethics are about theory, while morals are about practice.

Morales are the rules you live by; ethics are the systems that generate those rules.  Morals have to do with your personal life:  What is appropriate behavior on a first date? Is taking a ream of paper from your job home for personal use a crime?

Teachable Momemt: SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper author Howard Wasdin said to Jon Stewart on the 6/9/2011 Daily Show, that although he is a republican and did not vote for President Obama, Wasdin would consider doing so in the future because the President had it right on three accounts: keeping the mission operations secure, burying binLaden’s body at sea, and not releasing the pictures.  Wasdin admired the President’s political actions.

Should we really care about a politician’s personal actions?  Some say we should, for it gives insight into that person’s theory or system by which they judge good and evil and thereby decide what to do.

Stay tuned.  As we enter another presidential election cycle, the major weakness of ballot-box elections will once again become glaringly apparent:  the voters decide on a candidate by making an X rather than by exploring what it means to be the best candidate for the job.

The influence of smear campaigns, misleading political ads or the force of party-line habit voting, will make it a struggle for voters to possess a deep understanding and consensus on policy issues and thus elect the best candidate for the job.

The Importance of Trust-Clinton, Edwards and Schwarzenegger

There’s personal trust and public trust.  Trust between individuals is personal trust.  Trust placed in public figures and public institutions is public trust.  When trust is broken, people often feel betrayed and angry.  When former President Clinton betrayed his marital vows of fidelity, personal trust was broken–which should have been limited to the trust between him and his wife, yet the public felt outraged because a public trust relationship had been established during the campaign when allegations of infidelity had been denied. 

Some say this is the case with former Governor Schwarzenegger.  He broke both personal and public trust with the revelation of fathering a child with another woman while still married and denying marital infidelities during his campaign for California governor.  

John Edwards, it’s been said, clearly breached the public trust because he misused campaign funds in attempts to hide his extra-marital affair.

The bottom line: fidelity, vows, one’s word is taken seriously.  If trust is broken, say to a spouse who you vowed to love and remain faithful to,  it demonstrates selfishness for momentary gain with total disregard for the other.  If you can do this to someone who trusts and loves you, how can the public trust that you will put aside your selfishness and act in the public interest and not your own selfish interest?   How will the public know that you hold their interest in higher regard then your momentary selfish gain?  They won’t, unless trust can be restored through not only apology but action that demonstrates this regard for the other.   

Some say Clinton redeemed himself through his political leadership, restoring public trust.  Some say Edwards has not and will never have the opportunity since his chances for public election are slim to none.  And some say Schwarzenegger is like Edwards, especially since his leadership of California ended in catastrophy for the state.  Time will tell.

Attack on Religion or a Call to Discovery?

 I have a friend, a learned scholar, who brought this engaging exchange to my attention posted at The Science Network.

File:Neil deGrasse Tyson - NAC Nov 2005.jpg
Neil deGrasse Tyson

It’s a talk by  Neil deGrasse Tyson basically saying that religion is what some early scientists turned to when they could not explain the unknown and was used to fuel their creative thought.  The talk is lively and fun.  Tyson tells us to keep in mind that some of the greatest minds that have preceded us expressed notions of  intelligent design  when faced with the limits of their knowledge. “Science is a philosophy of discovery, intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. “     He encourages us to acknowledge that people are feeling at the limits of their knowledge when they invoke the notion of intelligent design.  He also encourages us to be self-aware of when we are at the limits of our knowledge and not let our belief systems limit our creativity, our search for knowledge.   Fun, fun, fun.

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Michael Shermer

Dr. Tyson is joined on the panel by speakers including  Michael Shermer, author of “Why People Believe Weird Things.”  Michael Shermer takes a social scientist’s point of view, asking the question:  what are the different variables that go into a person’s belief system?   He states that smart people believe weird things “because they are better at rationalizing beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.   Which is to say that most of the beliefs that most of us hold we arrived at because we were raised that way, or we were influenced by peers or mentors.”   It’s human nature to want to find reasons to justify what we believe. 

Another panalist states that business interests understand that science and innovation is important for the economy but they don’t particularly care if there is a large number  of uneducated people.  However, from the public policy and government affairs  point of view, it is critically important that citizens are educated.  In the United States, elected officials are tasked to represent and put into law policies and practices that the voters want.  If the people are uneducated on the most basic of human affairs, bad policy and government will result.  Business and government need educated people–business may need a few, but good government requires many more.

I started this blog to encourage myself and others to challenge beliefs.  First, acknowledging and modifying beliefs in light of new discoveries (“Own It”).  Then, acknowledge how the updated beliefs make us feel (“Feel It”), put those new beliefs into daily practice (“Live It”), and then be happy with our lives (“Love It”). 

It’s worth the 75 minutes to view the program because it makes you think about religion and beliefs in a different way. For me, this program was a reminder that wisdom (religion, philosophy, psychological) is a means for people to seek a deeper human experience and be encouraged to press forward, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming confusion, doubt, and unknowns. I felt both hopeful that public policy will balance the teaching of science and intelligent design in schools and happy that there is a role for belief in play in people’s creative lives. Watch the program and let me know how it made you think about what you believe, if it made you modify what you believe and how that makes you feel as you deeply connect with people and the world around you.

Kirsten Gillibrand on Daily Show – Garnering Trustworthiness?

Kirsten Gillibrand 2006 official photo cropped

Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator for New York was credited by Jon Stewart for helping pass legislation that included health benefits for the September 11, 2001 first responders.  Wisdom says, “You can tell a tree by it’s fruit.”  Perhaps Ms. Gillibrand is showing signs of someone who is trustworthy…