By Michael Bryan
Humans arguably have a genetically determined capacity to empathize to some degree, to consider themselves from the viewpoint of another, and to imaginatively place themselves in the viewpoint of another. Together with our prosocial nature, these capacities are called conscience and underpin ethics, much of religion’s moral precepts, politics, law, and human social life.
While we have a psychological basis in the brain for such feelings and intuitions, our culture develops, refines and conditions our actual ethical/moral behavior by building upon that biological bedrock. For instance, the circle of a human’s ethical concern might naturally be constrained to those just like them, i.e. their own tribe, with outsiders falling into a category of “other” not requiring or eliciting the same level, or any, ethical obligations.
Some have theorized that the cultural phenomenon of religion has hijacked, or built upon our natural capacity for conscience to widen the circle of ethical concern to co-religionists, and even to the universe of all humans. Thus does culture reinforce, reify and widen the reach of our natural capacity for conscience, and turns it into the basis for ethics, religion, morality, philosophy, politics, law and hence into large-scale cooperative behavior. In recognizing that a fallow, culturally-undeveloped conscience is limited in its application to the complex social constructs and questions of a modern society, we might consider the innate capacity for love of the natural world that E.O. Wilson has termed “biophilia”.
Some of your Blog for Arizona writers: Larry Bodine, Carolyn Classen, Michael Bryan, Pam Powers Hannley, and Linda Lyon
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LD 24 Democratic State House Candidate Jennifer Longdon
Jennifer Longdon symbolizes what a person can do when he or she overcomes great adversity. A native of Chicago (she favors Deep Dish Pizza to New York Style), Ms. Longdon has lived in Arizona since 1999. A successful businesswoman and mother, she was the victim of a random shooting in 2004 that permanently paralyzed her from the waist down. The shooting financially ruined her with her health insurance dropping her coverage while she was in a medically induced coma. After recovering, Ms. Longdon dedicated her life to championing for the most neglected, “disenfranchised,” and persecuted minority group in the country, the disabled. In the course of becoming a public advocate for the disabled, Ms. Longdon became a champion for other social justice and progressive causes, including education, LGBTQ rights, reducing gun violence, and health care. Believing that she is the best candidate because of her life experience on health care and gun violence and her activism in those areas, she believes “legislating is an extension of the work I have been doing for a long time.”
LD 24 encompasses all or part of Phoenix and Scottsdale. A reliably Democratic District, Republicans have not seen a victory here in several election cycles. There are seven Democrats, including an incumbent (Ken Clark) vying for the two state house seats in the primary election. Based on recent history, the results of the primary will undoubtedly determine which two candidates are seated in the legislature in January.
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