an odd collection of tales about learning to do the impossible

Posts tagged ‘empathy’

Outraged by the day-to-day fears endured by more than half of his fellow humans

Rescue workers the world over had come to know Olumiji as the tall, thin Nigerian man who showed up after earthquakes, mudslides and tsunamis to offer assistance, and who had an uncanny ability to find barely alive souls in the wreckage. He stayed out of their way and asked for nothing in return, so most wrote him off as a harmless oddball. Some speculated that he may have lost a loved one himself long ago in a natural disaster. In a way they were right.

Read more at Outraged by the day-to-day fears endured by more than half of his fellow humans.

A better word than peace?

One problem is that we stick this poor five letter word with so many meanings. There is lack of armed conflict (armistice). There is quiet (silence), there is inner peace (enlightenment), there is lack of argument (agreement) and there is actually getting along (harmony). Do we all want peace. Of course we do. What kind?

Read more at A better word than peace?

(For more thought on words we need, see A better word than loyalty?, A better word than hope?, A better word than joy? and A better word than courage?)

The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places

Along with the many tragic aspects of this incident is the side effect of how it serves to further separate the people of this world. No society exists on this planet that does not have its crimes; larger countries have more. Crowding, poverty, stresses from modernization and the integration of different cultures adds to volatility everywhere. But when the awful event occurs in the back yard of somebody else who lives far away from you, it is easy to think  “Oh, that’s the way they are.”

Read more at The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places.

(For more thoughts on Far Away Places see Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place, As Far Away Places Edge Closer, Caring About Far Away Places and Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door.)

Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door

Two things about far away places appeal to me. One is how different they are. The other is how similar they are. I think I like the second fact even better.

Read more at Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door

The Trouble with Telepathy

magicYes, it may not be the classic telepathy of fiction, but we are talking about direct brain to brain communication here, aided by modern technology. The article goes on to address possible real life uses including already successful work on adapting a brain-to-machine interface to help paralyzed patients walk by using their brain signals to control prosthetic devices. This is cool, and it is really happening.

Read this update on achieving telepathy through technology at The trouble with telepathy.

A way to wish you joy and peace in 2017

sunriseI woke up to this sunrise today,  a reminder that every day brings us a fresh chance to embrace, improve and enjoy this wonderful gift we call life.

It’s been a tough couple of months for me, and for others who want to encourage tolerance and empathy. I’m looking for positive ways to deal with my concerns about the direction in which my country is headed, and I hope that you are too. Lucky for me, my sister, who is full of good ideas, had a suggestion for me.

With her encouragement, I reviewed, edited and sorted through the 159 posts on my x0 blog and put the best of them into a new book called “Face Painting for World Peace.” This short (121 page) volume of essays attempts to be both humorous and thought provoking as it examines what I like to call “intra-species harmony” (aka world peace) from a wide variety of angles. Three of my favorites are One Person’s Tourist Destination is Another Person’s Home, My Imaginary Prison Time, and My iPod Works as a Fortune Cookie.

This new eBook is available on Amazon for the least I am allowed to charge (ninety-nine cents), and is similarly available at Barnes and Noble, on Smashwords, and at the iTunes store where it can be found as an iBook by searching on Sherrie Cronin. This is not intended to be a money making project; I have pledged to donate half of all proceeds to “Doctors Without Borders”.

Here is the description:

I am passionate about the cause of the world peace. From early 2012 on I have maintained a blog in which I often write about empathy and peace. I have arranged these short essays in book form, to be published for Christmas 2016. A lot has changed in the world over the past four years, but what has not changed is how I continue to cherish time with those I love, and how others do the same throughout the world. This book is my holiday card; my way of wishing hope, joy and peace to every human on earth, with no exceptions.

Please download, please enjoy, and please share with others. Meanwhile, I will try to wake up every day during this coming year, catch a glimpse of that beautiful dawn, and then seek out positive ways to add my voice to the chorus still being sung by those who believe that kindness should guide our politics, our words and our actions. I invite you to sing along, too.

(You can read the orignal post announcing the book on my x0 blog.)

Happy International Day of Peace, Lahcen and Najet

img_3275The Airbnb site says my hosts at the Riad speak English, French and Spanish along with the local Arabic, but it only takes a few minutes for me to realize that the claim regarding English has been exaggerated. Lahcen, the helpful house manager who greets me, probably does know several hundred words of English, compared to my several dozen words of French and two of Arabic, but his ability to answer my questions is limited. Najet, the cook and custodian who assists him, speaks some French and no English at all. Soon the three of us are communicating with gestures, key phrases and facial expressions, and it’s not going as poorly as you might think.

Read the entire post on my X0 blog at Happy International Day of Peace, Lahcen and Najet.

Happy International Day of Peace, Alberto and Maria!

c_norman_rockwell_do_unto_others_2Those of us not in politics have few ways to steer the human race away from the machinery of war. One of those is travel. As we spend time with others who are currently demonized, or who once were, we learn to question the assumptions about other nations, religions, races, continents, and what ever else you have when you describe “those people” in terms vile enough to make the average citizen believe that they must die. Of course, you can’t just get on a bus or plane and go somewhere. You need to interact.

Read the entire post on my x0 blog at Happy International Day of Peace, Alberto and Maria!

Do less harm

wise and quietIs a course of action better if it results in less harm? Most people would say yes, at least until they are confronted with the reality of the choices made by those who struggle to improve the world without making it perfectly right.

What am I talking about here? Well, drug addiction and educating women in Afghanistan and preventing pedophiles from molesting children and female genital mutilation and pretty much everything else I’d rather not discuss or think about. It turns out that there is a lot of icky stuff in the world, and it’s hard to make it any of it go away.

Read the rest of this post on my x0 blog at Do Less Harm.

Good people doing what?

triumph“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” has got to be the best quote that no one actually ever said. That aside, most of us are looking at ourselves in the mirror these days and thinking that we are good people who are wondering what it is that we are supposed to be doing.

Read the entire post on my z2 blog at Good people doing what?

More in Common

… Only the book ended up being about Nigeria instead. You see, in 2010, when I started to write it, Americans on the whole considered Nigerians scarier than Arabs. I had just taken a job with a Nigerian oil company where I often worked late in a common room and couldn’t help but overhear the phone calls of my young, male Nigerian co-workers as they called home.

Please read the entire post on my x0 blog at More in Common

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Back to Building a World of Telepaths

emI am learning more about the concept of privilege  — white, male, western, hetero, cis, wealthy, healthy, pretty, young — there are a lot of variations here — but the concept that I am ordained by God or nature to be better than you seems to hold the key to failing to care about you at all. Why wouldn’t a human who is certain of his (or her) greater importance be deaf to the pain of those lesser? Might they just find it annoying? I think it depends on exactly how superior these people think they are. Maybe if they had a superpower, like telepathy …..

Read the entire post on my x0 blog at Back to Building a World of Telepaths

“The Martian” and why do we like what we like?

https://tothepowerofzerodotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/mars.jpgIt’s back to the old empathy thing, I think. I don’t have a personal link with spies or lawyers or the history of the cold war, but the astronaut wannabe in me identified so much with the man left behind. I’ve lived in Houston, toured NASA, read countless things about manned missions to Mars as background for my own book d4. But it goes further than that.

I am in awe of Andy Weir, who wrote the well researched and highly accurate book about an astronaut stranded on Mars. He was a little known science fiction author, well, just like me. Word is that he got frustrated having his stories turned down by publishers, and that in 2011 he started posting chapters of “The Martian” to his website instead. How could I not love this guy? Of course I want his movie to win.

Read the entire post at “The Martian” and why do we like what we like?

All the empathy in the world won’t help?

(1) I write fiction about telepaths and examine whether the increased empathy from knowing others thoughts could be a key to world peace. (2) I like Rachel Maddox a lot and occasionally watch her show.

driftI read Rachel Maddow’s new book “Drift” because of the second item, but was surprised when I discovered that her central thesis casts doubt on the whole theory of my book x0.

Read the entire post and my book review of “Drift” at All the empathy in the world won’t help?

Time and Hate

weird2While researching z2 I learned about how unwanted Italians circumvented the immigration laws of the day by crossing the Rio Grande and coming in as more welcome Mexicans. I was astounded to learn of the extent to which Asians were denied entry into the early U.S. under any circumstances. My own ancestry is largely German and, yes, there was a time when some states tried to keep out the undesirable Germans, too.

I don’t talk about this to make light of the group hate that plagues us today. I don’t think society will ever look back on our racism and xenophobia and laugh. I least I hope not. Rather I want to point out how ultimately petty and harmful our biases of today will someday seem.

Read the entire post at Time and Hate.

Christmas is Not about “love, but …”

Look people.Two thousand years ago, a child was born. He went on to say things that translated roughly as “love one another” and “whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” He even went so far as to suggest that “if anyone wants to take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Yes, your whole coat. Whether you believe he was the Son of God, a great prophet, or just a wise man who was well quoted, his message of generosity, concern and love is quite clear. In my heart of hearts, that message is what I celebrate every Christmas. This is a holiday about love.

Read the entire post at Christmas is Not about “love, but …”

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For other slightly offbeat thoughts about Christmas, see my posts “The Future of Christmas,”Duct Tape and Christmas Cards”and “The Women of Christmas.”

And the Hate Goes On …

walk talk 1Do the Americans saying these things listen to themselves? Do they not realize that they sound like the villains in a barely believable movie?

I wrote the above lines three weeks ago on my z2 blog, where I often write about bigotry and hatred, two of the difficult themes that I tackle in the novel z2. While the news mentioned in my post is slightly out of date now, the subject matter remains sadly relevant. Please read the entire post at And the Hate Goes On …

Celebrating my family values

Tomorrow I will have been married for thirty-three years. I’m not quite sure how that happened … but here is a post I wrote exactly a year ago and it is even more true today.

Lo and behold, a couple who had started out as kids in tattered jeans had achieved the ideal of the family values crowd. So, does that mean that we have family values? Good question.

read the entire post at Celebrating my family values.

Finding Forgiveness in Costa Rica

Gratitude goes well, but forgiveness hits a glitch. Not everyone defines the word the same. To some it includes an element of reconciliation, forgetting or moving on and several of us agree that defined that way, some acts are unforgivable. We get into a discussion about the meaning of the word, and several well meaning people pull in child molesters, sexual predators, genocide in Africa and, of course, Hitler. I find the images disturbing and enter the next exercise with a churning mind.

via Finding Forgiveness in Costa Rica

 

 

A peaceful place amidst the shouting

Under what circumstances could you shoot another human if you could feel their fear? Know their thoughts?

A peaceful place amidst the shouting

one for one for one

x to the power of 0 equals one. That little mathematical quirk forms the basis for the title of my book and I figure that if you write a book that is basically called “one” you’ve got to love a movement called “one for one“. This past week I became acquainted with Tom’s Shoes and their policy of giving a new pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys a pair of shoes. In other words, you aren’t just buying yourself a pair, you are buying one for yourself and one for a child. Thus, the “one for one” movement.

Read the rest of this post at one for one for one.

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Empathy lessons from Nigeria

When I started writing a book about a telepathic link developing between two strangers, I wanted the second woman to lead a life that was very different from my protagonist. There were a lot of good reasons to make her Nigerian. For one, I’ve gotten to work with and know a variety of Nigerians in my day job, and I had both information on and appreciation for Nigeria’s cultures. Secondly, I recognized that few nations have as poor a reputation here in the US, largely due, I think, to the ongoing rash of Nigerian internet scams.

But I also knew that Nigeria has lessons to teach the rest of the world about learning to get along.

Read the rest of this post at Empathy lessons from Nigeria.

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Dynamite and world peace

World peace  ….  that favorite topic of beauty pageant contestants and those attempting a serious drinking toast ….. was also an obsession of the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. His personal recipe for world peace was to use part of the fortune he amassed from his invention to present an annual award to the human or humans who had done the most in the past year to make peace happen.  Along the way people as diverse as Mother Teresa, Leo Tolstoy and  Henry Kissinger have been honored. The award is presented every year in Oslo Norway, and a few days ago the author of this blog got to visit the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.

Read the rest of this post at Dynamite and world peace.

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