Archive for July 18th, 2012
A recent experiment demonstrates that synchronous actions knit the social fabric:
The results were striking: the simple act of tapping one’s hands in synchrony with another caused our participants to report feeling more similar to their partners and to have greater compassion for their plight: it increased the number of people who helped their partner by 31 percent and increased the average time spent helping from one minute to more than seven.
What these results suggest is that the compassion we feel for others is not solely a function of what befalls them: if our minds draw an association between a victim and ourselves — even a relatively trivial one — the compassion we feel for his or her suffering is amplified greatly.
Colin Beavan became made his mark as No Impact Man (and see here). That was his first grand experiment, and it taught me how threatening it is to most people to suggest that we should take concrete steps to live in a truly sustainable way.
Now Beavan has begun his second grand experiment: to run for Congress as a member of the Green Party. Beavan is not a polished politician; rather he talks like you and me. He speaks from the heart and with thoughtfulness. He bemoans that Americans lack meaning and purpose. He notes that we’ve lost our ideals. He repeatedly points out that our warmongering country is run by the people who have most of the money and that they will do anything to keep it through the use of their financial resources and their lobbyists.
Here is the question that haunts me. Assume that we didn’t have a history of two main parties (Beavan calls them the “old-fashioned parties) running on corporate money and warmongering, and assume that it was NOT the case that one of those two parties invariably prevailed in Presidential elections. Assume, then, that you were asked to vote from one of the slick candidates with the heavy corporate ties, or for a thoughtful candidate who is not beholden to corporate money and who stands for the ideals listed below.
In that case, it would be my belief that Colin would have a substantial chance to win the election based on his ideas and his utter lack of corruption and corporate ties. The problem is that he doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars or a slick party machine, and he is not buffeted along by that intractable American assumption that it is preordained that one of the old-fashioned party candidates will be the winner.
Immediately below, you’ll see Colin’s 18-minute speech at the Green Party National Convention. Below that video, you’ll see Beavan’s main talking points, which he sent to me today in a mass emailing.
Here is the speech I made at the Green Party National Convention on Saturday. It’s 20 minutes long so if you don’t want to watch it but you want to know the themes:
1. Democracy works on the principle that wisdom is collected from a group in order to make decisions that result in the greatest good for the greatest number.
2. The two old-fashioned parties have betrayed that ideal and are so frightened by the crises that face us that they no longer trust the people.
3. Instead, they meet behind closed doors with their corporate campaign contributors and make decisions from there how our country should move forward.
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