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Friday, July 17, 2015

Prey Hunted by and Helping a Predator

Above: A human prey in water barely fends off a shark attack during a surfing competition.

Below: Human prey have the upper hand, and upper ground, in helping this Great White shark beached in Cape Cod.

Is it as simple as the shark having the upper fin in the water and the human having the upper hand on land? The symmetry does not extend, however, to going beyond killing, for only the human feels and can act on compassion. To save an animal that could quite literally turn around and bite the person in the ass is either extremely foolish or incredibly selfless, or perhaps a little of both. If foolish only, the shark comes off looking superior, but if a value beyond mere survival is invoked, such as in the notion of agape, or self-emptying love, then the human being can rightly claim superiority. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The American-Iranian Agreement: Moving Mankind Past War

In an epoch of technological development, the relative dearth of political development as concerns international relations has been evident. In June 2015, Pope Francis advocated the establishment of a global institution having governmental sovereignty with which to combat the human contribution to climate change. Such a political development would be significant, given the long-standing default of sovereign nation-states and unions thereof. In July 2015, U.S. President Barak Obama announced an agreement with Iran that would keep that nation-state from develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. Just three years earlier, war had seemed unavoidable. I submit that Obama’s accomplishment can be thought of as a step toward rendering war itself as obsolete, or at least perceiving it as a primitive means of resolving disputes internationally. More subtly, the feat makes the sheer distance between the premises of war and those of diplomacy transparent. Paradoxically, this insight implies just how difficult a shift from a war-default to one that takes war as obsolete must be.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pope Francis on the World’s Economy Idolizing Profit

During his trip to South America in July 2015, Pope Francis appealed to world leaders to seek a new economic model to help the poor, and to shun policies that "sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit."[1] This line reminds me of the ancient Greco-Roman religious practice of sacrificing animals on altars just outside temples dedicated to particular deities. Doubtless no thought went into the animals’ suffering. In the Jewish Bible, God spares Isaac just before Abraham implements Yahweh’s command to sacrifice Isaac. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, Abraham constructs an altar for the purpose. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is sacrificed on an altar, which typically doubles as a table given the institution of the Eucharist in the Last Supper. This sacrificed lamb personifies God as agape, or selfless divine love, which manifests as benevolentia universalis, or neighbor-love. Sacrificing the needs of others is antipodal to serving them; hence the Roman Catholic pope’s preachment. Missing, however, was the subtle bias within Christian theology ironically in favor of money.   

[1] Philip Pullella and Daniela Desantis, “Pope Francis Condemns Corruption and ‘Unbridled Capitalism,’ in South America,” Reuters, July 12, 2015.