Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Friday, January 29, 2010

How to love 2

Not how to love another or your dog or vegetables or your country--just how to love. Not how to love your spouse or how to love your mother or how to love your father or how to love your son or daughter. My daughter didn’t wait to teach her son how to jump until he was old enough to broad jump or high jump. She taught him what fun it was to jump in puddles and to jump into her arms. Knowing what jumping is he will be ready for someone to teach him how to jump over a bar or to jump a distance or to jump out of an airplane.
It seems to me we ought to learn how to love without the encumbrance of all the different kinds of love. Sure my grandson is learning how to love his parents and grandparents. That is easy because he is being loved but what is that love that he is receiving? It is a feeling, to be sure. Basking in the radiant love of his parents and grandparents feels good, so good he returns it in kind with a smile, a giggle, a wriggle and even a full body spasm. How wonderful that feeling is. That must be part of love, a warm, happy feeling.
How can we have a warm, happy feeling about someone we hardly know? If we are to believe that we should love our enemies, what is that love? Can we have positive feelings about Osama bin Laden? Maybe love for our enemies doesn’t include a warm feeling, but what then?

Friday, January 15, 2010


We are all different. I say this a lot because I want you to understand that when I write about something that works for me, it may not work for you; just because I like broccoli and George H.W. Bush does not does not make him a bad person or less good than I am or visa versa. We are all different [Period or exclamation point, you choose.]
Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in The How of Happiness, a scientific approach to getting the life you want “happy participants [in a test against another] felt more upbeat than they had been earlier and thought better of their ability, regardless of whether they had witnessed someone perform much better or much worse than they. The self-assessments of unhappy people, by contrast, were keenly sensitive to the experience of witnessing another person’s superior performance.”
My reaction is, sure, it’s because happy people are self-contained. It is all inside. We perform up to our own potential and recognize that there are likely others who would do better. We are unique and able to celebrate our uniqueness without care of being different, not better or worse, just different, than anyone else.
You are unique and that’s a good thing. I wish that were taught more in our schools. Some children will be “left behind” in math, others in reading, others in sports, others in music, others…well, you get the idea. “Left behind” what? We fail each other when we fail to recognize each other’s uniqueness. If you are reading this, you are old enough or advanced enough in thinking to recognize your own beauty and value, your own strengths. Let me say that again. If you are reading this you have the ability to recognize your own strengths, value, and beauty? I have no idea to what extent you may be using your ability.
Self confidence, self-respect, and self-love are gained through self-understanding. Self-love is the foundation for all love.

PS Each of us has someone to love that does not depend on another. The ability is within each of us to love ourselves. That doesn’t make it easy, just possible. To love ourselves we need to keep tabs on what makes us happy and what does not and do more of the former and less of the latter.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thinking empathetically

Good news! I have heard the terms “thinking empathetically” and “empathetic thinking” twice in the past week in different contexts. I hope it becomes ubiquitous. If the previous administration had understood empathetic thinking and used it before invading Afghanistan and Iraq, over 4,000 Americans and an untold number of Iraqis would still be alive, and more than 30,000 young men and women would not have received physical injuries not to mention mental injuries.
Thinking empathetically before invading would have revealed that Osama bin Laden’s purpose was not to kill as many Americans as possible but to draw us into a war that could be played up as a religious war. We could have used the compassion and sympathy of people and countries around the world to root out terrorists quietly using our intelligence (and intelligence agencies). By declaring war and using our military might we have helped al Qaeda recruit more terrorists.
After the Christmas bomber some thoughtless people in congress pontificated that the president should be more forceful in his rhetoric. And what!? Scare terrorists?! Think empathetically. If you are hanging out in some al Qaeda training camp and you hear the President say something like, “This dastardly act will not go unpunished. We will track down terrorists wherever they are. We will…” I’m too lazy to look up the previous president’s remarks after any of the terrorist attacks since 911 or Tony Blair’s after the London bombings but they were leveled at the homeland populace and were the laughing stock in al Qaeda camps. Think about it, please. Put yourself in an al Qaeda camp. Imagine yourself sitting around a campfire listening to the President of the most powerful nation in the world spouting threats. As you listen, you are pumped up. “Oh, yeah, come and get us. Ha, ha, ha. How long you been looking for Osama? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Oh, man, we are scared. We are so scared we may just strap on some more explosives and do God’s work.”
Belligerent rhetoric is ignorant, ignorant of what the enemy is thinking, ignorant of what they want, ignorant of how to deal with terrorism. Thought, empathetic thought, is smart.