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Cultivating Empathy for the NEXT Crisis


Cultivating Empathy for the NEXT Crisis

Joe Brewer

There will be more crises, a lot more of them. It’s going to happen again and again. And we all know it. This frightening truth keeps staring us in the face and we need to admit it to ourselves. So we had better be prepared for the next crisis… and the next one after that. Because there are going to be a lot of them.


Thank you Joe Brewer. Hope to see this theme expanded and deepened. For instance: What gives rise to a “rigid ideology”? Over the past 50 years numerous anthropologists have been working to tease apart the agglutinated assumptions, prejudices, fears and practices that clutch at the lacunas inherent to exclusionary narcissistic chauvinism. And if there is one characteristic of assertions of “American exceptionalism” it is the unquestioned constructs of precisely those rents in the fabric of what it means to be a human being, dropping into ruts worn deeper and deeper by group think and practices just wearing them deeper and deeper.

The beauty of nature having the final word is that the real, true healthy fibers of ‘human nature’ all resonate with symbiosis in constant becoming.


"…that our primary motivation is to ‘maximize self-interest’ "

That is a convolution which chiefly arose out of the gestalt of the 1980’s.
Interesting to note, writing in his classic treatise Wealth of Nation, Adam Smith, the acclaimed founder of the study of economics, had this to say about those who’d ‘maximize self-interest’:

" All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. As soon, therefore, as they could find a method of consuming the whole value of their rents themselves, they had no disposition to share them with any other persons. For a pair of diamond buckles, perhaps, or for something as frivolous and useless, they exchanged the maintenance, or, what is the same thing, the price of the maintenance of 1000 men for a year, and with it the whole weight and authority which it could give them. The buckles, however, were to be all their own, and no other human creature was to have any share of them; whereas, in the more ancient method of expense, they must have shared with at least 1000 people. With the judges that were to determine the preference, this difference was perfectly decisive; and thus, for the gratification of the most childish, the meanest, and the most sordid of all vanities they gradually bartered their whole power and authority."


Yes, there will be crises. And yes, we should cultivate empathy. But your greatest misunderstanding of what that means and requires is captured in this perspective:

Humanity is going through a “phase transition” from the explosive growth of economies in the 20th Century.

Humanity is much bigger than the “economies” that grew through the 20th c. The real glitch in our practice of empathy is our neglect of the wholeness of humanity, of the humans left out of that explosive growth. Communications technology has given us the ability to see and share many more of the crises, but we tire too quickly. We hash-tagged #bringbackourgirls for the first 250 shockingly kidnapped from their dorms in Chibok, but then we moved on, and at most barely heard of more villages invaded by Boko Haram, more girls kidnapped, boys killed. We’ve thrown up our hands at Nigeria, our empathy worn out.

It’s not the NEXT crisis for which we most need empathy. It’s for that whole of humanity, it’s to keep the Chibok schoolgirls in our hearts as we place their abduction in the context of further developments in Nigeria. It’s putting Boko Haram in the context of Isis, in the context of what the US has done in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s putting all of that pain and fear in a realistic and informed context of worldwide Islam, and of theological and sociological Islam. And maybe that in a realistic and informed context of worldwide religion.

What we need to cultivate is an explosive growth of empathy, grounded in real information rather than the panic of unceasing crisis. That’s how empathy actually works.


An article on the milk of human kindness.

This article about empathy in action and I am sure many reading it will feel something inside them that can only be defined as “good”. We can not deny empathy exists. We can not claim it comes from “self interest”. It very real in spite of what the “Greed is good” crowd , that low percentage of humans on this Earth , would have us believe.


Empathy is based on reflection and part of the quintessential Inside Job.

However, the world–under patriarchal capitalism–profoundly favors the Mars Rules stance of all-action, all the time along with a competition-based, naked self-interest: the enemy (or at least, antithesis) to empathy.

Empathy, a form of love for humanity is an expression of Venus. SHE is the Divine complement to Mars. However, everywhere one turns one sees that Mars is beating up or beating on Venus rather than loving her, respecting her, honoring her and treating Her as his partner.

We see this in how the Earth Mother is in so many places left torn, battered, poisoned, denuded and RAPED.

We see this in the status of so many poor women all over the world.

We see this in the martial blood-lust unleashed through warriors and their spreading of wars that leave so many broken mothers and children behind.

We see this in the kind of funding the U.S. sets by example: with half its budget earmarked for the MIC and the latest round of advanced (including a “new generation of nukes”) weapons of mass destruction while art classes, Head Start Programs, and peace studies are under-funded if funded at all.

Those men who have the GUTS to show love and empathy are usually humiliated by other men. It’s that Neanderthal part of MALE culture that has men behave like primitive beasts when in groups. Whether a group of cops TOGETHER beats a Black Man in custody, or a group of thugs in white sheets lynches a Black man, or a group of males gang-rapes a young woman, or a group of males put on uniforms and Kill for the next Inverted Cause…

When not killing or raping people, they similarly plunder NATURE with an equally casual sense of swagger and absolute disregard.

Until the Mars principle is returned to a balance with the Venus Principle, acts of aggression, competition, and brutality will continue to be seen as norms and like vast Cancers, metastisize from there!


Lovely input, Joe Brewer, indeed, humanity needs to find the caring energy within and manifest it in internal and external lives. My perception is quite in line with the thoughts of @Siouxrose11.

In my opinion, the current global crises relate to a serious energy imbalance, which results in disharmony and chaos. Our world is Patriarchal; it holds an exaggerated amount of masculine, yang energy, while seriously lacking the essential feminine, yin energy. Here is a list of yin and yang energies and their manifestations: http://www.intsangano.com/yin-yang-manifestations.html

Modern culture promotes the yang energy in all its forms, while dismissing the feminine, yin energy. Fundamentally, the masculine focus is on individual competition to maximize quantities of profit for the elite. This is done by dominating society and exploiting nature, both of which are manifestations of the feminine yin energy. The result is that a small elite becomes hugely wealthy while a quality of life for society and nature is destroyed. This manifests in the crises of poverty and inequality; war and violence; human rights abuses and corruption, and environmental destruction.

In spite of this energy imbalance, leaders in Modern Patriarchal society continues to promote the singular yang force. This unbalanced choice will eventually lead to total planet destruction. Yang cannot limit itself and will continue to satisfy its bottom-less wants by exploiting all that relate to yin. In order to limit the progression of the masculine yang energy, a dynamic tension with the yin energy is essential. Dynamic tension between yin and yang will lead to balance in perceptions, thoughts, values, choices and behaviors, resulting in global harmony.

Consequently, perceived in this bigger picture, the solution to earthly chaos and worldly crises is to add the feminine yin energy - in all its forms and manifestations; locally and globally. The top priority for survival of Mother Earth would be to choose leaders who have an inner yin/yang balance and who therefore can promote balanced standards, attitudes, decisions, and behaviors. The outcome would be an improved quality of life for society and nature worldwide.

I am an eternal optimist; I believe that yin/yang balance is possible still. :heart_eyes:


The problem with humanity is all our hierarchical structures based on the formalisation of human relationships. Believe this or tell me of a significant problem that does not result from such structures. Corporates, nations, religions, political movements - all demand the surrender of individuality and creative approaches to living in order that someone else controls you… and leave you daft enough to think that’s a form of freedom.


It’s great to see you back. You are one of so few who “gets all this.” In fact, your post sounds just like comments I’ve made here for 9 years. There’s so much resistance to this understanding! Even here, in what purports to be a “Progressive Forum.”

I also believe it’s not only possible, it’s the ONLY remedy for the triplicate lethal forces of spreading wars, a financial system of graft about to implode, and most damning of all: the wholesale collapse of nature.

It’s sad that your post as well as my own see so little support. THIS is the medicine of the spirit that would help to heal all that is dis-eased.

The idea that God first said the Word explains that the manifest world is first the product of Spirit. In order to repair the template and rejuvenate the balanced blueprint that all life depends upon, respect for the Love Dance between Yin and Yang is vital.

The premise of men partnering with women is so difficult for so many males. Even here, when I explain why it’s vital, the typical feedback is that of pushing the few women who act as martial as men (Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Maggie Thatcher, etc.) onto the stage as if their behavior somehow invalidates the entire premise of BALANCE.

Very good to see you and feel your support on this most vital issue of all!


Is it that difficult for you to see both as complementary rather than the linear mindset that thinks matters can only exist as A or B?

Gender of course IS innate. The female’s role as reproductive channel obviously differs from that of the male.

You might wish to read up on the distinct foci of both sides of the human brain with right brain’s orientation towards feelings comporting with the FEMALE side of sentience.

Then there are the cultural conditioning factors… or is it lost on you that women only were allowed to vote 100 years ago, and that throughout patriarchy’s reign of mostly terror, women were treated as chattel and allotted NO rights.

All you and your pals can see is the witness of the few women who clawed their way to patriarchy’s apex BY ACTING LIKE rabid males in warrior packs; and based on this adaptation (and distortion) make a case against the Yin-Yang that’s built into your very GENES!


Thank you for your reply @Non-believer. Kindly allow me to present some background information regarding the philosophy on yin and yang in order to properly reply to your very relevant question:

The belief is that yin and yang emerged at the beginning of time when the cosmic darkness was split by a flash of lightning, which brought light. Since that moment of creation, yin and yang have been the only two cosmic forces in existence. Nothing has life except through them and all that is, contains both of them. The roots of yin and yang relates to shamanism, which was the first known world religion. At the heart of shamanism is a vision of two worlds, the material, physical world and the spiritual world. The material world was often at the mercy of the spirit world, hence, the shaman communicated between these two worlds in order to try to bring balance. Shamanism arose in Siberia. It spread to China, across Russia to Finland, and from Siberia to Alaska into north and Central America. No one knows when it began, but it is at least ten thousand years old because the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, necessary for its transmission, disappeared some ten thousand years ago.

Today we relate the yin yang forces (or energies) to the Chinese cosmology, I Ching, which means “Book of Changes”. Ancient Chinese philosophers perceived reality as a process of ongoing, repeated rise and fall of the two archetypal poles, yin and yang; everything joins in the cosmic process generated by the dynamic interplay between these two. The Chinese thinkers perceived the nature of existence as a cyclical, ceaseless motion with yin and yang being the elements of change. The Chinese concept of change was shaped by observing natural events: the course of the sun; the change of day and night; the succession of seasons; the flow of water. Change is a constant aspect of existence; change is what life is all about. Yin and yang put the boundaries for the cycles of change.

While yin and yang are opposites, they are not of a different kind. They are two extreme poles of one whole therefore everything in the universe is interconnected. Nothing is only yin or only yang; everything is both. Thus, the welfare of one affects the welfare of the other. Yin and yang are not good or bad; they just are, and as a consequence, the cosmos is.

Yang relates to form and the process of taking form, yin refers to matter/energy, which takes form and dissolve into formlessness. Matter/energy cannot exist without a form and there can be no form without matter/energy. When we experience our everyday world, mentally perceiving it to have an objective self-existing form, it is the phenomenal yang world we see. Yet, when we stop projecting our form upon the world, we become aware of yin and its formlessness. It is a change from observing forms to see that of which they are forms. Yin and yang are consequently diverse ways of experiencing and knowing the same world. Yang is based on rationality and reason, while yin is based on intuition and emotion.

People also have both yin and yang forces; men are commonly more yang, women more yin. In Chinese belief, certain things are given at birth, but nothing else is fixed. Thus, our fate is in our own hands. If we take control of our lives by improving our personality and behavior, we can change who we are. Since not all would choose the same, it will generate differences. Hence, Chinese philosophy celebrates diversity. This is opposite to the Western obsession with making all alike. The West needs one model that explains all. When diverse models are presented, the alternative is ignored, suppressed, ridiculed, or eradicated. Yet, the drive for oneness will lead to an even greater diversity. Eventually, the opposite force will reappear as a natural part of reality.

The I Ching was developed from the wish to ensure success in change. If the universal yin yang balance is upset the Earth is distressed, resulting in natural disasters that negatively influence all. If people’s yin yang balance is disturbed, they will negatively influence the balance of their surroundings, causing harm to all parts of the universe. Since everything in the universe is interconnected, it is important to maintain balance, personally and cosmically.

Consequently, the Chinese philosophers concluded that change is a natural order founded on a dynamic tension between yin and yang. Dynamic tension results in balance. Handling the tension ends in harmony. Harmony is consequently not the absence of tension; harmony is created by balancing differences and handling conflicts. With balance and harmony, changes take place steadily and in continuous progression. The yin yang symbol shows the essence of equality, balance, and harmony.

Conclusively, yin yang is a philosophy of change. It is inclusive, holistic and promotes ideal systemic change. It is similar to worldviews such as the general systems theory and Smuts’ holism.

The Western worldview contrasts this holistic philosophy. Modern thinking is based on reductionism and dualism. It separates the masculine yang and the feminine yin forces; perceives the masculine part as being different from and better than the feminine part, resulting in creation of a false value hierarchy. This permits manifestations of the masculine force to dominate and exploit all considered feminine. Hence, in the Western perception of reality the dark yin is bad and the light yang is good. It manifests as a false value choice between adversaries: male is superior to inferior female; white people are better than people of color; and humans are more important than nature.

This dualist view has historically permitted white men to dominate women and people of color, and to exploit nature, causing cosmic imbalance. It is important to add that in newer history the biological dichotomy “men/women” does not hold. There are an increasing number of women and colored people who willingly embrace dualism and the masculine yang behavior and vice versa. Hence, in recent patriarchal history, the concept “master/ slave” would be more appropriate and should replace “man/woman”.

The outcome of the patriarchal, dualist worldview is imbalance, dys-harmony and global crises. To return to balance, it is required to add feminine yin energy and its manifestations in all aspects of human perception, thinking, reasoning, choices, action and behavior. By adding sufficient yin, humanity can recreate a dynamic tension between yin and yang, causing cosmic life to evolve into a new balance resulting in harmony for society and nature worldwide.

I trust that you may have found the answers to your questions in the above, however, allow me just to summarize: yes, the I Ching philosophy perceives yin and yang as being innate in all that exists, including you and me. One should also agree to your second point, since human beings have free choices and can initiate changes that go against the natural flow of the yin yang forces. Hence, humanity can construct social norms that perceive yin and yang as adversaries – just as Modern Patriarchy has done – leading to chaos.

It would be tempting to suggest that any one cosmology is as good as any other; meaning that the reductionist worldview is merely different from, but equal to the holistic I Ching. Yet, that would not be a rational viewpoint: in philosophy one is bound to prioritize consistent reasoning. Thus, the preferred cosmology would be one with a consistent conclusion that follows from a given set of supportive premises. If you scrutinize the Modern worldview you will find that it is riddled with contradictions, resulting in paradoxes. It is therefore obvious that the I Ching, and similar holistic cosmologies, has much to offer the Modern worldview. Holistic cosmologies can assist in creating awareness of the unbalanced Modern society and its unjust patriarchal values, prompting its members to increase their “yin” actions.

Enjoy your weekend.


Hello dear @Siouxrose11 and thank you for your kind words. Yes, I am very much aware of your hard work to recreate yin yang balance in our lopsided patriarchal world. Keep it up. Trust me, I will also work until the end of my days to try and promote the caring yin energy in whatever I do. The world needs it. I have regretfully been occupied with family issues during the last year. However, the pressing problems have now been solved and life and my work can go on. I expect soon to be able to withdraw somewhat from most external activity, and focus fully on my manuscript, which - if the Universe is supportive and I work extremely hard - eventually will end in a book. About what do you think? Patriarchy and its crises! :smile:

Sending you much yin care and wishing you a lovely weekend.