Think of the values and ideas we left progressives tend to identify with and defend and advance against those rapacious “1%”’ masters of capital, for whom the Golden Rule is that “those who have the gold deserve to rule.” Words that first come to mind probably include solidarity, democracy, the common good, equality, justice, peace, and dignity. Other terms might arise: human rights, socialism, freedom, liberty, the commons, people over profits, and people’s power.
Here’s one you might not think to mention: empathy. Empathy, which Gloria Steinem once called “the most radical of human emotions,” means the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes – to understand and sense what that other is experiencing and feeling. In Christian terms it refers to the decision to “love your neighbor as yourself,” yielding the original Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In Buddhist terms, empathy means exchanging oneself for others, subordinating ego to what the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls “interbeing.” It means abandoning the standard reigning Western sense of a solid, separate self apart from other sentient beings and the earth we share.
By Paul Street