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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Two Turtles, One Young, One Old
    Yesterday night at a dinner party, I was challenged by two friends, both recounting stories concerning turtles (how we got to turtles is another story), what matters here in this regard is the meaning conveyed by the storytellers and our subsequent lively conversation.



    Compassion?

    The first story was about a day at the beach in which the person telling the story noticed a couple of people sitting and marveling at a small just born sea turtle that somehow lost its way to the sea. They held the turtle in their hands in a small container filled with seawater, not knowing how to treat the little creature they used their cell phones, called the beach rangers and were patiently waiting for the authorities to arrive and decide how to proceed.
    She approached them and asked why were they behaving in such a manner to which they responded: “ what do you mean? It is a form of life and all life is precious, we need save them and help them thrive, it is a duty of everyone of us”
    She retold this story at the table, presenting this as evidence of the goodness and inherent empathy of humans, declaring her positive belief that humans are compassionate creatures and deserve to be seen as such.

    As soon as she finished, another participant at the table said to her: “ I love this story, but I think you have a pink filter on your eyes, here let me tell you another one, also concerning turtles”



    Brutality?

    The second story then concerns a man that was sitting on the beach with his dog, having what can only be called a solitary moment of silence, his dog however started barking furiously at something and wouldn’t stop.
    After a while the man rose and went to investigate what made the dog so furious, discovering on the beach a huge sea turtle probably over a hundred years old. This man however felt disturbed (or maybe was disturbed to start with) took his hunting knife and slit the turtle’s throat, thereby silencing his dog; he furthermore went on and resumed his silent contemplation and then left.
    In the morning other people found the turtle on the beach still struggling and after a while the turtle died in agony.

    She said that this story is evidence that humans are inherently uncaring, brutal and potentially evil doers, therefore proclaiming her belief that unless the circumstances (meaning the law) are dampening human urges to act uncaringly, a human will behave as the story portrays. She furthermore said: “ see? This is how we are as a species and this is why we are in the process of destroying our planet, unless proven otherwise we should be suspicious of ourselves and other humans.”

    You can imagine the lively discussion that ensued with everyone pitching in. however my point in recounting this is different (though I confess that the second story made me very upset).

    Since I am working on the emerging polytopia project, part of which is developing a coherent philosophy of future ethics (or ethics for our future), it occurred to me that the above stories reflect on our humanness, morals and ethics in a very peculiar fashion. Somehow these little recounts demand a response that is both personal and local, and yet global or universal in its implications.

    A stance.

    Of course we are all aware to some of the horrendous actions of humans both present and past, and I am certain that each and everyone of us has different stories to tell, both good and bad, the point however is that our future very much depends on how we personally relate to these kind of events.

    As most of my writings show I am a staunch believer in the future potential of the human race and as such I think that statistically we are better than what is apparent
    and yet… and yet I did not wish to resist this moment in the flow of events and therefore decided to share this with you folks.
    I am aware that this is not my usual optimistic take and this morning I had a good opportunity to remember why we need believe in others as TED has just released an old (1972) but highly inspiring talk by legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl.



    Pitch in








    Wed, May 19, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Ethics, Turtles, morals, compassion
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    Fast T     Thu, May 27, 2010  Permanent link
    Indeed lively and almost painfully simple in a most demonstrative way these two turtle stories are (which doesn't take away the multi-layered nature of the big question). Being a realist too, in alluding to another well known turtles story, I'd say 'Its turtles all the way down'. Meaning, it is to me of the essence that we take the un-decided, un-finished circumstances of being represented via both (stories) and allow them to drive us into pursuing what it means to be human all the way and always. Cherishing and expanding on the very open nature of our minds and bearing in mind that we set our present and future direction not only in our abstract dimension but in and within our immediacy-tainted responses. Aiming above a certain trajectory isn't so much about being idealistic, as I see it, but rather about being involved and consciously active in the making of this un-finished creation of mind. In that, we are all futurists.
     
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