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Age Of Violent Empathy!

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We are forgetting the world where we could just show empathy by holding hands, a hug, a kiss, a hand on shoulder, or just a gaze that meant “I understand. I care”

We are going into the world where the only way we can show we care about one person is by attacking some other person and claiming the attack was to protect the first one.

Social media has made us so insecure that we need to express anger to show that we are in control, to soothe our insecurity.

Social media has made us so disconnected that we need to feel the connection by joining someone’s team.

This insecurity and lack of connection morph into violent empathy. It is not real empathy.

The real empathy can feel compassion for the thief as well as the real owner.

The real empathy is realizing that seemingly we are all connected.

Real empathy is feeling the pain of someone else.

Real empathy is healing the pain of someone else.

Don’t Look Out Of The Window

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Just finished watching the movie “Don’t Look Up”. Some googling about the movie tells me that indeed global warming discourse was at the back of the mind of producers. That is what I suspected. And watching that movie is what inspired me to write this article. Thus the title ” Don’t Look Out Of The Window”.

The movie is frighteningly real in depiction of current approach of society when discussing matters that affect us all. And here is my two cents worth effort to exert positive influence.

I meet people in daily life who fall in four categories. People who have no idea what global warming is, people who have heard about it but are not sure how serious it is, people who have heard about it and are in denial about it, and people who are convinced that global warming is real and dangerous. Sadly the fourth category is not as strong in numbers as I would like to be.

For the starter, assuming you have no knowledge of global warming, let me give you one paragraph introduction. Every second a whole lot of energy falls on earth, most of it is sunlight. Most of that energy is also reflected by earth to the space. Some of that energy is retained and it affects everything such as ocean currents, every type of wind from breeze to hurricane and polar ice caps. What is happening over last few hundred years (mostly due to human activity of burning lots of wood, coal and gas and cutting down forests) is the mixture of gases is changing in such a way that more and more heat is being retained in the atmosphere. As a result, we are seeing a heating trend and unpredictable weather patterns. The most dangerous thing is that these changes form a feedback look. That means once more heat is retained, more water is vaporized, more ice melted, thus leading to even more heat retention.

The consequences are far reaching. It’s not just “Oh it’s going to be 1.5 degree celcius hot, so I will turn down my air conditioner a bit more and still enjoy my life.” They will range from increased heat waves, increased extreme weather events and floods, and so on. And this is the easy part. What happens when there is a lot of uncertainty? Loss of opportunity due to lack of being able to plan. Rise in interest rates on every loan. Rise in premiums on every insurance. This is the medium part. The serious part? Rise in pandemics because viruses mutate faster. Rise in animal and human infertility. Loss of planktons in sea because of reduced oxygen in seawater because it’s hot, which will lead to reduction of oxygen in the atmosphere.

To some extent, the scientific community bears responsibility for this haywire discourse. Things like the nuclear countdown clock that is always five minutes away from the doom has made people somewhat desensitized towards such alerts. Scientists have been caught crying wolf before, warning of catastrophes that never happened.

Second problem is the way these findings have been presented to masses. On one side scientists are saying that we are sure it’s happening, no doubt. Yet on the other side, the terminology, the predictions seem to be continuously changing, sending the singal that we are not sure about this. This creates a conflict in person’s mind.

Here is what I want to say. I have one question for any skeptic of global warming. If you see rain in the weather prediction, do you walk out of the house with an umbrella in the hand? Yes? The same computers and similar algorithms are predicting global warming. Every time see the weather prediction and it turns out to be accurate, you need to think about global warming.

Can the predictions change in future as more data becomes available? Possibly yes. Is there a tiny tiny chance that the scientists are wrong, or the computer models are wrong, or that with more data they will change their minds and say “there is no global warming”? Yes, there is tiny chance.

But the question is are you willing to take that chance? Where do you put the probability of global warming? 90%? 80%? 50%? 20? 10%? Whatever number you choose, remember that that is the probability of a severe disruption in your life with no possibility of return to normal. How much chance are you willing to take with everything you love?

For a small chance of nuclear attack, countries maintain hundreds of billions of dollars defense budget. For a small chance of dying prematurely, you purchase life insurance. For a small chance of virus, you take vaccines.

It’s very strange to me that people are having hard time believing scientists that have no strong incentive to lie. Most of the financial ties of people who publish papers in reputed journals are disclosed. And we choose to believe people who actually have reason to life, who stand to benefit from the words they are uttering.

There is urgent to change the way debates are happening. We have to expose the biases that lead to more self-awareness, without threatening the narrative of the person. Because if the person strongly identifies with the narrative, they are more likely to close their ears than to open their mind. We should not “fight” them, only influence them.

Life and Death

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When you give away something, you die a little bit.

When you let go, clean the closet, give or receive closure on an unfinished transaction, a small part of you is dies. Does it feel like loss? Or does it feel like liberation?

At the same time small part of you is reborn.

Death in one world is birth in another.

The best way to live is to die every moment. Let go of things, open up to uncertainty, at every moment.

The best way to die is to live every moment.

Winter does not come because you did something wrong in summer. Winter comes because that’s cycle of nature.

Your days of suffering and your days of happiness. Your life and your death. Part of cycle of nature.

But we love fiction of “success and failure”, because it creates room for validation of the idea of individuality or ego.

We love fiction of “life and death” because it creates room for celebration of the idea of individuality or ego.

If no one is born, or no one dies, then there is no one to succeed or fail or live or die.

All just ripples in one eternal flow.

Just ripples.

That’s not it

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Your clock does not show time. It shows movement. You make time out of it.

The piece of folded paper in your wallet is not money. The agreement society has that this shape and color of piece of paper should be called money makes it money.

All holy books printed on paper burn exactly the same way.

Tears of a movie star are as salty as those of his/her chauffer’s.

Gold is just another element like iron and lead. The thing that makes it valuable is inside your head.

The value of gold, the status of movie star, the respect for the holy book, the power of money, the urgency that comes with knowing time, all are shared perception. Because we all share it, does not make that perception a reality.

When one becomes wise, he or she understands this shared perception is different from reality and discards it. Saying again and again, that’s not it, that’s not it.

While looking inside, the more and more aspects of human experience are realized as just perception and moved aside. For the wise one, the less and less is left in reality.

At one point, nothing is left in reality. Everything is shifted to perception.

This is what Buddha calls “The Void”.

All perceptions arise out of this void. Yet no perception can ever capture the essence of it.

Happiness and sorrow can arise in this void. Yet given enough time in the void, everything returns to peace.

Pride and Shame

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Once I achieved a big success.

Seeing my face beaming with pride, the Buddha said “Congratulations, for creating fantastic yourself.

Congrats for instilling willpower in yourself.

Congrats on not falling down at age 2 and being disabled.

Congrats on being born to your parents.

Congrats on growing six feet tall.

Congrats on making you in a way that you will succeed”

I said I didn’t do all that.

“Oh” Buddha said “Then tell me what is this pride about?”

One I failed miserably. Seeing my face sunken, the Buddha said “Shameful that you don’t know the future.

Shameful that you were not born perfect.

Shameful that your brain is limited in ability to think.

Shameful that your body is not that of a Superman.

Shameful that there are stupids in the world.

Shameful that you cannot please everyone and control everything.”

I said I could never do all that.

“Oh” Buddha said “Then what is this shame and guilt about?”