Thursday, September 01, 2011

PTSD and moral injury

My story about moral injury is finally out in Miller-McCune magazine. This is one of several articles to come out of my work on the Goodness Project.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trust and the Golden Rule

I did a fantastic job following the Golden Rule yesterday, largely because the only people I saw were my eightysomething mother and the twentysomething barista at the coffee bar. And, yes, I was able to be nice to both of them. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be this easy the rest of the year.

Also, thanks to everyone for the great conversation about the meaning of the Golden Rule. (Commentators noted: If the Golden Rule means doing unto others as you want to be done unto, then don’t we run the risk of ignoring other people’s wishes? How the heck do you know if what you want is what someone else wants? We have to take care of ourselves first before we can be there for other people. Stress can undermine our effort to be good, and yes, we need to reframe our irritations and angers into positive statements to avoid strangling each other. )

But the topic for today is trust — that is, trust and the Golden Rule. How can I treat others as nicely as I want to be treated if I fear that they are going to stab me in the neck — either literally or metaphorically — while I’m standing around being pleasant to them?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 1 of being good

Uh oh. What have I gotten myself into? How does a soul be good? The best I can think of right now is to start simple.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Seeking goodness in a new way

I spent 365 days attempting to answer the question: What is goodness? Since I completed that quest on June 1, I’ve been bumbling around trying to figure out what to do next. My year-long journey was wonderful. Challenging, fun, intellectually exciting, and in the end, it did enable me to form my first theory of goodness. Looking back, I think it’s rather grandiose to call that a theory; it’s actually more of a hunch of mine — that goodness is a skill. But I did do what I set out to do, and for that, I am pleased.

But my teeth itch. Something’s not quite right here.

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Shameless self promotion

The August issue of The Progressive Magazine is out now, and it includes my essay, “Was My Father Evil?” My essay is not available online, so go forth and purchase an old-fashioned hard copy of the thing. Tell them Diane sent you. Meanwhile, their website does have an interesting excerpt from an interview with writer and war correspondent Chris Hedges.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are we good, or just lucky?

I’ve spent the past year seeking to understand the true heart of good human beings. I’ve asked everybody I could to answer the question: What is goodness? Imagine my surprise when I interviewed MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Shay last week and discovered that goodness may have an aspect I never considered before. A good person, in fact, may be nothing more than a lucky person.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Falling off the empathy cliff into evil

Simon Baron-Cohen argues that evil should be defined as the absence of empathy. In his new book, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, the University of Cambridge professor of developmental psychology proposes replacing the “unscientific term ‘evil’ with the scientific term ‘empathy.” New York Times reviewer Katherine Bouton explains:

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The anti-Sam Harris points to a real moral operating system

Google Engineering Director Damon Horowitz tackles the idea of using numbers and science to make ethical decisions and comes up with a delightfully different answer than Sam Harris did in The Moral Landscape. Watching Horowitz’ TED talk, I’m energized and hopeful, which is a far different reaction than the one I had when reading Harris’ book.

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Cool Stuff Ahead

So, just when I decide to take a breather from all this goodness work, I stumble into some fascinating items online that must be shared. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's next?

The task I set for myself more than a year ago has been completed. I haven’t found the meaning of life, or even goodness, but I did do what I said I would do: After 365 days of research I came up with an answer to the question: What is goodness. Hooray me! But I don’t feel like I can let this goodness thing go. Not yet.

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The Progressive & The Goodness Project

I’m pleased to report that The Progressive will be publishing an updated version of my essay, “Was My Father Evil?” The essay is set to run in the August issue.

My first theory of goodness

My year is up. No more dodging the issue. It’s time for me to answer my own question: What is goodness? To do that, however, I have to first talk about God, moral codes and baseball.

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Should goodness ever be defined, or what have I done?

No more dodging the issue for me. Tomorrow is the 365th day of my quest, which means I have to finally give you my definition of goodness. Before I went to WisCon last week, I drafted that post, loaded it onto the blog, and boarded the plane to Madison feeling darn-right smug. I thought I’d come up with a fetching and irrefutable answer.But then I got to WisCon, and started trying out my spiffy new definition on other people. Oh dear.

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How I've been changed

Nearly 365 days. Almost 525,948 minutes. That’s how long I’ve been thinking about the question of goodness. Not every minute, of course. There’s been sleeping, laughter, work and movies. But I’ve never been so focused on a single question for so long in my life. Even coming out as a lesbian didn’t take this long. As the year has progressed I’ve realized that the journey has touched me in unexpected ways. Here are just a few.

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For some reason, I wasn't able to transfer copy from my Goodness Project blog to this blog while I was away the last few weeks. Everything else worked great from a mobile platform, but I couldn't get the transfers to work, so finally, after a short delay here are opening blurbs and links to more than a week's worth of The Goodness Project.