Empathy Surplus Project

Engage the Battlefield of Ideas for Good

By Joe Brewer and B. Laszlo Karafiath. First published at Culture2Inc

Changes in societies are driven by “culture wars” and the battle of ideas.  Epic idea battles arose between capitalism and communism, religious fundamentalism and secular humanism, pro-choice and pro-life, emos and goths, etc.  Great advances have been made along the way in the realms of public health, human rights, representative government, trade and business, and the development of technology.

The road to human progress is often presented as a continuous path.  Reality simply doesn’t work that way.  History is rife with conflict and tension, collaboration and resistance, competing agendas that battle for supremacy.  Progress is not linear.  It moves in cycles and waves, pulses and push-backs, tension and release.  Culture is a complex system made up of many actors with diverse relationships among them.  Change is emergent from the countless interacting parts.  And memes are always at the center of the action.

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Republicans & Democratic Party Members Cooperating Around Human Rights

IMG_2904.jpgIn our democratic republic when should Democratic and Republican Party members cooperate around compassion and human rights?  

Caring Citizens’ Congress delegates say, “Always.” 

IMG_0161.jpgMark Hess is a candidate for Union North B precinct representative to the Clinton County Republican Central Committee. He wants his party to ratify healthcare as a human right. And his candidacy is contested. Hess has allies in compassion and human rights: Democratic Party neighbors, Miriam Speaight and Chuck Watts. Mayor Randy Riley of Hess’s own party comes to mind, also

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Thank You for Your Article: "My Son, Josh Cluxton."

Karen_with_Halo.jpegby Karen Frances

Thanks to the delegates of the Monday Evening Caring Citizens’ Congress of Wilmington, OH, for promoting their policy direction that healthcare is a human right. Without their concern for healthcare human rights I might never of seen the story about Mike Cluxton’s son, Josh, on the Empathy Surplus Project blog. 

If healthcare were a human right, American residents, like the Cluxtons, would not have to resort to fund-raisers. As Josh’s dad wrote, “I wouldn’t ask for me, but this is my son.” The photo of Josh in an orthopedic halo—a very misnamed appliance, by the way—haunted me for over a week.  The haunting was accompanied by a gentle inner nudge to track him down and give him a call.

Halo photo: In my halo and other orthopedica with a rehab nurse at Dodd Hall Rehab Hospital at The Ohio State University Medical Center.  I was one of her research subjects for an article that she published in a nursing journal on the role of music and imagery. (2005)

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Charles Fillmore, Discoverer of Frame Semantics, Dies in SF at 84

Charles_Filmore.jpgBy George Lakoff. Republished with permission.

Chuck Figured Out How Framing Works

Charles J. Fillmore, one of the world's greatest linguists -- ever -- died last Thursday, February 13, at the age of 84 in San Francisco. He was the discoverer of frame semantics, who did the essential research on the nature of framing in thought and language. He discovered that we think, largely unconsciously, in terms of conceptual frames -- mental structures that organize our thought. Further, he found that every word is mentally defined in terms of frame structures. Our current understanding of "framing" in social and political discourse derives ultimately from his research, whose importance stretches well beyond linguistics to social and political thought -- and all of intellectual life. The world has lost a scholar of the greatest significance.

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Preventive Healthcare and Human Rights in Clinton County, OH

HRLogoTextCMYK_0.jpgSocial Security is a great example of governing with compassion and human rights for the common good. What if Clinton County, OH, were governed for the benefit of every resident profit creator versus unknown, future, non-resident job creators? Economic development as freedom would be our common sense. We would display human well-being measurement data from the city building. Caring citizen discussions on how to spend proceeds of the sale of our local public hospital could be crowdsourced at the precinct neighborhood level. 

Consider framing the discussion of "community health and wellness" around expanding freedom for all.

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Will You Be Mine? Valentine That Is.

244363_s.jpgHappy Valentine's Day

Our Caring Citizens' Congress delegates and adjuncts AND our friends at Books N More, Marla and Dan Stewart, want to say Happy Valentine's Day.

As a special thank you to those of you who have been interviewed with our Caring Citizen Freedom Survey Dan and Marla want to give you a 25% discount at Books N More on any book, game or toy. You can see the results of those conversations so far with this link.

If you've answered our questions and have NOT received instructions on how to redeem your discount, email chuck.watts@empathysurplus.com


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My Son Josh Cluxton

Josh_After_Surgery.jpegI received this email this morning from my friend, Michael Cluxton, Wilmington, OH. His son, Josh, recently had an accident and is worried about how to pay for his care. In January we launched our Caring Citizen Freedom Survey on healthcare and human rights. Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they had difficulties getting the care they received, citing mostly "expense." I have not interviewed Michael yet, but I AM responding to his request to share his email with as broad an audience as I can. I hope you will take a moment and read this email from a father.

From Michael Cluxton
Hello All,
Most of you don't know this, but my son Josh was critically injured.  Josh lives in Oakridge, TN, where he is a nurse for a private in- home care facility.  Here is what occurred  Sunday night February 2, 2014, at approx 830 p.m.
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Compassion Free Zone: Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

Chuck_-_Version_2.jpgCompassion Was Against The Law

I married Mary Thomas Ogles in May 1969. She graduated from Mississippi University for Women the same month. We then moved to West Point, MS, got an apartment, and settled into being newly weds. Mary Tom worked for the Daily Times Leader as the city editor. I was a Mississippi State undergraduate and disk jockey at the local radio station. While Mary Tom covered the news of small town Mississippi, I studied and trained for cross country by running all around that small town. Our civic engagement consisted of serving on the board of the West Point Day Care Center, the first licensed day care center for black children in the entire state. 

One night Mary Tom and I were at a day care board meeting at the home of a prominent white businessman. We had taken a break to get coffee and cake. Someone looked out the window and noticed the local police were taking down the license plate numbers of our cars. The home owner went out to investigate. I don't remember what he was told. It was not what he wanted to hear.

As Dickens would say, "It was the best of times and the worst of times." We lived in West Point, MS, from 1969 to 1974, when we moved to Sewanee, TN, and I entered seminary. During that short time, the first black man to ever run for mayor of West Point came close to winning. The local KKK ignited a bomb at the local court house and tried to pin it on the black candidate. Mary Tom and I believed our phone was tapped. 

Fast forward a few years and thanks to the ACLU the country learned of the enemies list of the State of Mississippi's Sovereignty Commission.  If there was ever a worst case example of privateers working with enabling insiders of a public government to to steal the moral mission of protection and empowerment of all its citizens, those were the days. Though they spelled her name wrong, Mary Tom, made it on to that list. What we suspected was confirmed. She and her family had been secretly named state enemies. Our crime? Wanting compassion and human rights, promised in our countries founding documents, exercised in local public government. 

  • Who were the privateers? The White Citizens' Council, a non-profit group of white business men.
  • Who were the enabling insiders? Virtually every elected official in the state from county / city government to state legislators, who did the legislative bidding of the White Citizens' Council. Those who worked for the state had to comply with the secret dealings of the MSC, Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, all the way down to the local police and those who did the wire-tapping.
  • Who were the caring citizens? Those residents in Mississippi, black and white, who worked courageously and tirelessly to bring compassion and human rights to public square for every single resident. They were intimidated by many, local officials and privateer sympathizers, on a regular basis.

Tomorrow, Monday, 02/10/2014, on PBS, I hope you will take the time to watch Spies of Mississippi, an Independent Lens film documenting the inside story of the secret state-funded agency that spied on American citizens to maintain segregation. Here's a press release for more information.

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A 100 Year Empathy Deficit Is Enough: Time for a Fed Worthy of a Caring Society

ellen_brown.JPGby Ellen Brown and modified with permission by Chuck Watts for the Empathy Surplus Project blog. Originally published at the Web of Debt blog.

December 23rd, 2013, marked the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, warranting a review of its human rights record.  Has it achieved the purposes for which it was designed? Have Americans been protected and empowered?

The answer depends on which Americans we are talking about.  For bank privateers, the Fed has served quite well.  For the caring citizens whose populist movement ironically prompted it, not much has changed in a century.

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SOTU 2014: Tell Us About Your Empathy, Mr. President!

lakoff.jpgBy George Lakoff, Republished with permission from the author. Originally published at HuffPost

There are enough people guessing what the president will do. This is about what he almost certainly won't do, but what I would like him to do.

The president has material power without the Congress, and personally, I would like to see him use it. He could issue an executive order for the government to grant contracts only to companies that pay their workers above some higher minimum wage. Or he could reject the XL pipeline on two national security grounds: its contribution to global warming and the dangers of leaks, explosions; and he could stop the virtual pipeline of dangerous tar sands and fracked oil shipments by train and waterway by insisting immediately on safe puncture-proof tanks. He could direct federal agencies to monitor and control dangerous chemical use and storage to prevent future versions of the Great West Virginia Water Disaster. I would love to see him act in dozens, if not hundreds, of areas for the public good, and give the moral grounds in the SOTU.

Beyond material power, the president has even greater power -- cognitive power -- and he hasn't used it much. Cognitive power is the power to put important ideas in people's minds by shaping public discourse. He has the unique power to change how America thinks simply by discussing crucial ideas over and over.

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Empathy Surplus Project
Re-imagining the American ideal of a well-functioning democracy one precinct at a time.