Thursday, December 14, 2006

Discussion - Part III

(This is part 3. Read parts 1 and 2 first for the context of this series.)

I like the term fellowshipping. It’s been hijacked to mean a group of church members meeting for a potluck meal but I like to think of the derivation of the word and not it’s bastard usage. Fellow shippers convey the thought of a group on a ship experiencing things in common – beautiful sunsets, dangerous storms, dwindling food, camaraderie, sickness, entertainment and work. The fate and fortune of one is the fate and fortune of all.

I feel a sense of fellowship with people – all people without regard to age, gender, ethnic origin, religion or nationality. I feel sympathy for the families of the soldiers who have died in Iraq. I feel equal sympathy for the families of Iraqis who have died as the result of our aggression. They are of equal value.

As a human, an aging human with many needs fulfilled, I can transcend my personal experience. I can feel and empathize with others. I can dream of possibilities. I can respond to a desire to create. I can voluntarily control some of my needs because I value some person or some great truth. These feelings and desires guide my discussions.

A few months ago I read an anonymous comment that’s not eloquent but true. It stuck with me. Another ex-prisoner suggested that “all people in positions of responsibility, politicians particularly, ought certainly to have had schooling in the skills of a good POW. It causes you to look after yourself being aware that someone else is looking out after himself and you mustn’t damage him. You are both equal when all is said and done.” (Lewis H Carlson – We Were Each Other’s Prisoners – An Oral History of World War II American and German Prisoners of War)

I want to look after myself with damaging another person or denying them opportunities for health, happiness and freedom. That means I support increasing the minimum wage and providing child care for single mothers trying to get an education and job skills. It means I favor increasing taxes on myself and those who make more than I do. It means I don’t oppose gay marriage. It means I want to prosper but not at the expense of other people.

When we discuss today’s social, ethical and political issues I’ll be choosing my words and arguments based on the things that I value. You need to know what I value and I need to know what you value.

I value people, freedom, opportunity, challenge, community, relationship, diversity and responsibility.

(This isn’t the end of this subject. I could add presuppositions to needs and values but I think I’ll stop here and turn to some more pleasant things – just because I want to. Also, Michael wrote an interesting comment to yesterday’s post. I agree with it and think I may do a full post on the subject sometime in the future.)

4 Comments:

Blogger Buffalo said...

Lack of positive communication and an inability to "walk a mile in the other person's shoes" are the parents of discord and hate.

You have caused me to think about, to identify and analyze, what is important to me.

12/14/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger whitesnake said...

Get outta my head!

12/14/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger THE Michael said...

Excellent post a the way around, Paul. I'm glad my challenge produced an evaluation of the statement you made yesterday. I only said it because I am faced with the consequences of bad decisions in my job every day, including drug overdoes and suicide attempts made half-heartedly. Yes, many are cries for help, but many are also nothing but immature tantrums which produce pain beyond that experienced by the person involved. I believe in a very basic creed, the Wiccan Reed, which states "Do as thou will, harm none".

12/14/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

I like this series. Thought-provoking.

1/04/2007 02:43:00 PM  

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