Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Two Videos on Mirror Neurons

Just watch them; will ya?

The RSA Animate speaker talks about how we are able to associate ourselves as one family by bloodlines, to religions, to nation states, to nations; he seems to suggest that our sense of empathy has been expanding and progressing through time. I don't know if that is an accurate description. The sense of belonging is often caused by the discoveries of other bloodlines, religions, etc. We associate with our own bloodline, religion, race as one family only in the face of a common enemy. Therefore, I think our sense of empathy in the current stage largely sprung from the notion of otherization, the "us VS them" ideology. When do students in the same class see themselves as one? When they are competing with other class. I had this thought when I was watching the last Olympics. During the regular ATP tour (men's tennis), players represent themselves and there are no flags next to their names; win or lose, it's just another day in the office. However during the Olympics, all of a sudden it's Spain VS Swiss; and they're competing for the pride of their respective countries. We identify ourselves as different groups in different times. Sometimes, especially during the time of solitude, we do not even empathize with ourselves. I remember there were times where I would have conflicts within myself and it felt as if there were multiple selves inside me, fighting to become the authority.

Another circumstance that leads us see ourselves as one is in a time of extreme crisis.  But it's relatively harder to bring about unity comparing to the "common enemy" circumstance because the threat of such crisis may not be as apparent and immediate.

The last thing I want to hear is the word "patriotic" being thrown around because that to me indicates a time of war or crisis. 

It's certainly possible to see ourselves as one biosphere, but do we need an "other" or a catastrophic crisis as a precondition?  I sincerely hope not.  As the speaker of the RSA Animate puts it, we are softwired to be empathic.  That to me suggests that we have a choice to be empathic or not.  During a time of war or crisis, it's easier to choose the former.  But to be empathic with everything there is during a time of peace almost seems impossible.  The Buddha did it; Jesus did it as well; but can we?

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