On human kindness and generosity…

On human kindness and generosity...

I wonder what would happen if every night, instead of watching the news and seeing how people around the world are killing each other, polluting and otherwise engaging in selfish and nasty acts… what if instead we sat down together to share a meal and talk about human kindness and generosity?

21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

Try this out… spend 5 minutes looking at these pictures and see how you feel about humanity and yourself. These are pictures that tell stories of people offering up kindness and generosity to each other and to animals in need.

Have a moment of wonder and tenderness and perhaps reflect on your own place in the world… way way better than watching the news!

Republicans, get in my vagina!

Republicans, get in my vagina!

Republicans, get in my vagina!

Who doesn’t want conservative politicians in one’s vagina? Somehow Republican US politics doesn’t really concern itself with the rights of refugees, prisoners or the well-being of teachers or gays and lesbians.. so what do they care about? The rights of unborn fetuses at the expense of their mothers’ rights. Deep down republicans are obsessed with trying to control your vagina! Who would have thought conservatives are so close to your private parts?

What money can’t buy…

What money can't buy...

Are markets neutral? Should they be extended to all and any spheres? Michael Sandel, in his new book ‘What money can’t buy’ argues that there are moral limits to markets and economies cannot exist in a normative vacuum. Otherwise previously valued things are degraded and social processes become less fair.

Strangely, I think that in previous eras this wouldn’t have been such a provocative proposition and it is a peculiar sign of our times that economic rationalism and neoliberalism have encroached on everyday life to such an extent that we rarely question the ‘wisdom of the market’.

Sandel’s examples are rather convincing. Is it morally justifiable if the rich pay homeless people small amounts of money to queue for them, then turn up at the right moment to claim the ticket/performance/surgical treatment etc (the latter is a practice in China)? This turns a previous communal good into a monetized activity.

‘Dead peasants insurance’ is even more deplorable. This is the name of a new phenomenon where companies take out life insurance on their employees, without their knowledge and without dependents benefiting in any way, which was the original idea behind life insurance. So now we have companies wagering on their employees’ death then collecting the money after they die.

Experiments have shown that even charitable activities suffer when they become monetized. Previously schoolkids went knocking on doors to ask for donations in their neighborhood. Once these same children were given an incentive of 1% or 10% of their collected donations on top of what they collected their charitable desires evaporated as the activity was now for sale… the consequence was that their overall collection decreased and they took much less joy in the activity. It went from a civic, morally rightful one to something you just do for money.

Sandel’s ultimate questions are very pertinent ones. What sort of society will we live in when previous social goods or norms have become monetized and are up for sale? How will moral and civic goods fare and should we intervene when markets simply fail to honour such limits, as they inevitably do?