Reader comment on Rachel Naomi Remen's passage ...

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    On Jul 10, 2013 David Ryan wrote:

     My preferred word for our highest value is helping or helpfulness.   I think it is a little more action oriented and covers more situations than kindness.  Kindness is usually perceived as a gentleness or soft demeanor which is usually helpful but perhaps not always.  I could be kind to someone but my kind demeanor may not always be helpful.  I can also be helpful and not be kind.   In helping the judge of helpfulness is the recipient of helping, the helpee.  I can't say I am helpful unless the helpee agrees I am helpful.  I can feel love and compassion and not be helpful.  I can display kind behavior and not be helpful.    But I can't be helpful unless the helpee says it is helpful.  The criteria of helping actually makes things more complicated which is more life like.  For example, acts of helpfulness for some must be weighed against potential harm for others.  Short term helpfulness must be weighed against long term helpfulness.  Helpfulness for humans must be weighed against harm for Earth and its other species.   And if the helpee doesn't have the capacity to judge what is helpful like a child or a dementia patient, how do we find the right expertise that is truly helpful to them and not to just helpful to us.  I don't think that kindness is a broad enough concept to deal with all of those situations.  Love, compassion, and kindness, in my opinion, are all ultimately  judged by the criteria of helpfulness.  That for me makes it our highest value and we should focus on that and supplement it with love, compassion, and kindness. TEHM is The Evolving Helping Movement, pronounced “team,” humanity's assumed highest value. TEHM is already everywhere.  Helping is rooted in attraction.  Attraction was present at the dawn of the universe as hydrogen molecules were attracted to each other and started the fusion process resulting in galaxies of stars.  This 13.7 billion year history of the universe demonstrates the evolving process of attraction and its creations.  Attracting activity appears to be the basic reality of our universe.  This attracting force helped to create our sun and our planet Earth.  All of these evolving, creative forces appear to have helped us and continue to help us unintentionally. Those are the  unintentional actions of TEHM based on the best evidence we have to date.  Somewhere during our evolutionary history our forebears began to practice helping as a way to improve their lives.  Intentional helping was created to complement unintentional helping.  Humans made specific decisions to help one another and that started the intentional actions of TEHM which has created what we call civilization.  Everyone is a helper to some degree.  Helping is a win-win situation.  It helps the helpee, the one who receives the help, but it also provides the greatest experience of life satisfaction for the helper, the one who gives help.  TEHM is beyond anyone’s control and continues to bubble up from the grass roots of humanity.  Every group organized by human beings is for the purpose of helping.  Every job contributes in a narrow way to TEHM.  The most powerful way to strengthen TEHM is to help people identify TEHM that is already present in our midst and in the vast universe of which we are a part.


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    On Aug 8, 2013 Wayne Iba wrote:

     These thoughts advance the conversation and our understanding of helpfulness and service.  But the criteria for helpfulness cannot be solely the response of the helpee.  Consider the numerous situations where "you'll thank me later".  David Ryan seems to recognize this in the reference to children or dementia sufferers.  But the same idea applies to all of us in one area or another in which we have our own blind spots and incompetencies.  Thus, as David suggests, 'helpfulness' is much more complicated than it at first appears.


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