Week 06: Avoiding Harm, or Evil

Intolerance


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Tolerance

Tolerance may not be much but it is a beginning. We cannot love people we cannot even tolerate. For some people, tolerance is never an issue. For others, it is always the issue, the ever-present impediment to love, fellowship and a life of service. If you are one of the
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Common Ground

Homo sapiens is a social species with a capacity for fellow feeling. However, we are also a species with tribal inclinations, born of our evolutionary past in tribal groups and our biologically driven inclination to favor kin. We have a demonstrated proclivity toward identifying others categorically, such as people of
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Fairness

Man was born free; but everywhere he is in chains. [Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book I, Part 1: Origins and Terms of the Social Contract.] Most people would say that fairness is a basic building block of justice. But what is fair? The mere establishment of a set of rules
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Self-Restraint

Self-restraint is the avoidance of harmful actions, as expressed by “thou shalt not kill.” Strict pacifists are committed to following this rule to the letter. Most people follow a looser interpretation of the idea, which allows harm to be done in the interests of justice, for example, in self-defense.
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Acknowledging Others

The fundamental building block of interpersonal relationships is the acknowledgement of others’ humanity or personhood. Obvious as this may seem, denial of this fundamental precept – or the absence of this fundamental understanding, as the case may be – has led to the severe denigrations of personhood seen in genocide
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Non-Malevolence

The corresponding emotion for the first level in the development of interpersonal relationships is the absence of malevolent intent. Conceptually, it represents the first level of development but in practice it can require the skills of a spiritually mature person, especially if malevolent feelings are habitual and longstanding. As with
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Avoiding Harm

We come to the first fleshing out of our relationships with others. As in medicine, the first rule is to do no harm. The global state of harmlessness consists of acknowledging the humanity of others, an absence of malevolent feelings and refraining from harmful acts. Its value is fairness, its
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