The Compassionate Mind

In the Adelaide Town Hall, Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, Australia’s first woman, Nobel Prize winner said: “Make sure your mentors have human qualities that support you.” She went on: “There are many smart people in science but check that you work with those who have humanity.” September 14th 2013.
She insists we have been training more people not educating them.
We must refuse to accept the individualism that denies the need for humanity.

Remember Margaret Thatcher? Didn’t she say, There’s no such thing as society.”? No such thing as humankind? No such thing as community? No such thing as the public good? Now we know the danger of that. And the devastation of the Australian equivalent is “I’m all right, Jack.” Isn’t it responsible in large part for our refusal to face global warming?

That kind of individualism is being shown to stunt the mind. It is connected with what Hugh Stretton called “The Cult of Selfishness”. In Australia Fair, published by UNSW Press, 2005, reprinted 2006, Hugh Stretton made clear how both major parties have undermined community. Still, we know now the brain is flexible and can go on learning. That means it can un-learn attitudes and approaches doing us damage in evolutionary terms.

Australia’s public broadcaster, ABC Radio National, on Life Matters, presented this information. Note the connections between the sciences and humanities.

Monday 4 March 2019 9:06AM (view full episode)

When most people think of compassion, they think it’s something only to be practised by the heroes and martyrs among us, or they think it’s something reserved for special occasions.

But Paul Gilbert, a world-renowned expert on the topic, says compassion is actually one of only three essential emotional drivers built into our evolution.

Not only that, but new Australian research by Dr James Kirby, who directs the Compassionate Mind Research Group at the University of Queensland, shows that practising compassion has been scientifically proven to make us happier.

It not only makes us happier. It must make us more thoughtful about the impact of our actions.

Martin Rees says we need ‘enough feel for science. Go back to “Thank you Martin Rees”

Image: Do you feel like you have time to be compassionate to yourself and others?

When we recognise the centrality of felt connections and the destructive future impact of selfish actions, we need to work/vote to oppose the greedy, self-centred, who use their positions to increase their power and wealth at our expense. This focus on ‘self’ is the enemy of community. It is central to the individualism of those powerful multi-national companies as well as individuals who, for example, wilfully cheat their national taxation offices. This shows contempt for the reason democracies need revenue to care about children, people, fairness, natural resources, environment, health, education, social justice, shared commitment, considering future generations.

At the level of university research, this is a wake-up call. The compassionate mind. At last in research we are connecting quality in thought and feeling. How long will it take? How much damage is likely to be done in the meantime by the power-hungry driven by their insistence on ‘self’? They may not care they are stunting their brains. Evolution is relatively slow.

Remember Elizabeth Blackburn’s warning in 2013.

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