Gorillas missed their calling?

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Ndakazi & Ndezi                Twin, 12yr old Congolese female orphan Gorillas

The longer I gaze at this image, taken in April by their keeper, Mathieu Shamavu at Virunga National Park in the DRC, the more I tremble inside.

These pages are forever banging on about the dignity of animals, their intelligence, their de anima: but this?

This is different.

(Aristotle’s work Of the Soul (de anima) pertains to biopsychology, thus seems irresistible to acknowledge that Animal psychology is a thing.)

What is going on here? Are these adolescent females mimicking him; or stretching: or thinking ‘what the hell is he doing with that box?’; or saying to each other ‘Ooh, pucker up: a Selfie’. Whatever it is, there is thought behind it.

Mebbie by virtue of language, sentience – the capacity to reason – has been linked to sensory perception – taste, touch, smell and so on. Amid the scientific community, it is seemingly presumed that if unable to speak the Queen’s English (or all other national equivalents) an animal lacks the neurological network that transports signals of pain to the brain. This appears to justify inflicting annihilating misery on creatures with impunity. (Best not get me started on that one.)

So what are we saying here? Do you know, I’m not entirely sure. What seems important to highlight is that humans are one species of creature, gorillas another. The characteristics, biochemistry and physicality we share are largely self-evident. If two species of living creatures share functions essential to sustaining life, it’s not an extrapolation too far to posit all living creatures possess such corporeal operation. Pain is not a function of reason but a consequence of neurological pathways. If you step on a cats foot, the scratches up your leg will tell you it felt it. So, if we’ve the developed intellect to be kinder to all animals, why aren’t we?

Twelve year olds, of whatever species, appear happy to copy grown-ups. What else might we learn were they enabled to observe & experiment? Call it gorilla tactics.

Untangling the web

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Image                                                                          Funnel-web spider’s crib

One of the scintillating qualities the mind possesses is that of sieve. It allows the stuff of life to fall through until such time as we’re ready to see it or feel it … or hear it: know what I mean?

A wonderful mathematician & computer scientist was speaking of how she mustered support to save Bletchley Park by means of connecting with like-minded strangers through the twitosphere.

I’m not sure if being ‘very very pants’ is something that can be said in sentient company: nonetheless, it is an accurate description of my techné in this area. Her words had me dashing to squint at @emotionalresilience and #Empathy and … all those aspects of existence on which these pages comment.

It was a depleting experience: seems there ain’t many of us who reason these matters … matter.

The Materials that we supply – not only here but in universal encouragement to let lives speak – inform how generously we can contribute to the wider world. What’s done becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: being gloomy causes one gloom just as a kind act ignites kindness.

It’s not rocket science: it’s more sophisticated than that.

Kindfulness

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Greek café opens its doors for strays during winter nights

Since the beginning of the year and p’raps even longer, it’s been hard to know what to write. The litany of misfortune has cascaded around our ears, propelled by the puzzling individuals who play on the global stage and who forget that being the bigger person is not about size or volume.

Across all the world’s solemn systems of thought, this is a sacred time of year. It prizes open an opportunity to soften the heart and be kind for kindfulness’ sake.

Celebrating cyclical transcendence offers hope and a chance to let our life speak. Flopping back into that great supportive armchair – taking responsibility for actions in order to control the outcome – has the consequence of floating out kindness to others as well as to oneself.

Kindfulness is the prudent, fulfilled ambition to act with kindness in order to germinate kindliness in others. This intended symbiotic reflection cultivates a generosity of spirit to dissolve darkness, transforming its lack into light.

I’m not sure Messrs Chambers or Oxford English, Collins or Websters are ready to recognize this idea of kindfulness; not yet …

Ubris

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Gilray's Excrescence

Gilray’s Excrescence

Gorgeous palaces that are melted into thin air hover all around us. Their shimmering essence, as their material substance, is but a hologram. Currently, it seems the most successful enterprises are as tangible as clouds yet wield power of an atom bomb.

Take Uber, for example. Travis Kalanick appears to have co-founded a company whose stratospheric creation and market capture neglected to put in place tangibly accountable operating systems for staff, protecting them from extravagant neglect of their humanity. Upon facing their complaints, he was told he had “to start listening to your own people.”

Hubris is the swagger of excessive pride that can lead to a downfall. Now, there’s nothing wrong in being deliriously delighted with an achievement; perhaps even for a moment being seduced into thinking oneself above criticism? But allowing that to inform how the producers of your bottom line are treated – to their detriment? That’s just shabby.

If long-term prosperity is to flow from our ingenuity, the ground from which we grow must be nurtured and returned to good heart. It’s all one thing, really. Kindness to the earth, brings forth healthy food and surroundings to nourish hearts and minds.

Kindness to one another: not so hard it is? Listening, on th’other hand, is hard work and demands attention ober und über the call of duty.

Empathy : word of the year

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I wonder whether the rise of interest in Empathy this year is in any way related to the dazzling number of truly miserable events by which the world’s been besieged?

In order to stretch one’s mind to try to understand how it is for someone else, there needs to be a motivation to do so. So perhaps the fact there are few who haven’t been touched by tragedy of some kind has generated this deepening of humanity?

Emotional intelligence is the American term for England’s Emotional literacy; reading the room if you will. Each and both pertain to the skill of recognizing others’ mood and using that knowledge to inform the nature of the ensuing dialogue.

Marshmallow, together with a few other focussed groups promoted these EQ skills since the mid-Nineties and Empathy was one of the foundation stones. In the same way a sculptor will look at a block of marble, see two figures entwined and then set about revealing them, so Madeleine Baird Materials emerged from Marshmallow’s block and continues to stand on those founding principles.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might not have known how intrinsic empathic understanding is to self-raising flourishing.

Have a happy and compassionately empathic New Year.

The C word

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boscoanthony.com

Photo: boscoanthony.com

How many politicians go into politics, do you think, yearning to be the epitome of the oily, corrupt, elected representative their constituents eagerly line up to distrust? I’d posit a ratio of One in Ten thousand; if that.

Yet puzzlingly, it seems the ultimate fate of those who hold power. Why? What is it about power that corrupts: apart from the mountain of yes-minions, fat dinners, foreign trips and catering of all whims, what could possibly go wrong? The combination convinces the official theirs is the summum bonum of importance to their surroundings: without them, the world disintegrates. Who wouldn’t be seduced by all that?

I wonder if the answer isn’t rather simple? A word, in fact. It’s what I call The C Word. The word that begins with C and ends in Ompromise.

Now, I stabled my high horse before settling down to write so there’s no use mounting yours to decry this as arrant, myopic nonsense. Dialogue clearly requires diplomacy and generosity of spirit if agreement is to be reached between parties who start at opposite ends of a spectrum. But hold a moment. The C word requires relinquishing principles, values, ideals. Are they martyred for the greater good or mere expediency? Either way, this seems to me to corrode the spirit. Chipping away at foundations on which we stand eventually leads to sinking into the mire, all stability of balance lost.

Agreement within ourselves neither to inflict nor sustain harm – as sound a definition of Justice as any I know – [not mine, alas: Plato’s] has the happy consequence of a justly lived life. And by living justly, we treat others justly; such are the ripples in a sea of content.

Does it always end in failure?

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Churchill credited him as “making the political weather”. Later, Enoch Powell in his biography of Joseph Chamberlain, father of Neville, wrote “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.”

Well, we’re reminded of this in virtue of David Patraeus’s recent, spectacular fall from grace and of Jack Straw’s more modest tumble.

Both men, in our opinion, spent their entire careers working ceaselessly for the betterment of their professional surroundings and given the public nature of those environs, for the improvement to all our lives.

Whom among us hasn’t messed up? Assuming you’re not an axe-murderer – in which case take yourself straight off to the see the boys in blue – our stupidities are such as to reveal our human frailties and are not born of an insidious desire to corrupt and hoodwink.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we concentrated more on original blessing than original sin and wouldn’t it be gorgeous if reading this, you thought it sense over schmaltz (sp?).