being well
being well Area home page
enlightened being
  genuine interpersonal life

gary e. davis
August 29, 2020
“But right now,” Michelle warns, “kids in this country are…wondering if we’ve been lying
to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.”

Let me make an abstract point, but for practical purpose: The generative ambiguity of ad-dressing “us” is integral to the singular/plural difference in pronouns. You understand this. And what pertains to us in being with you is no more inclusive than the appreciating exemplar expressing what we understand.

“But right now,” Michelle further warns, “kids…are seeing what happens when we stop requir-ing empathy of one another.”

Countering that requires not only appreciation of the importances that belong to others like they belong to oneself—and belong to oneself because one is essentially like others—import-ances such as the issue of “who we want to be” and the importance of hope—shared hope, belonging together in hope (and aspiration and resilience and love and goodness).

Not only appreciating that—not only appreciating identity as complementarity of personal differences; and personal difference as integral to shared generativity.

Also to be appreciated in good interpersonal life is appropriateness of interaction: Decency, yes! Yet, that’s less than genuineness, which may be called to especially show compassion. Compassion is more interactively distant than empathy, which is more interactively distant than love.

We should need to be habitually sensitive to balance or aptness for the sake of whom we’re with.

Appreciating a continuum of kindness is beyond a simple notion of grace—or rather, full appreciation of being-with is what grace was originally about (I would argue): appreciation of the other in interaction as the basis for expressed degree of relating.

Expressing love may overstep an aptness of empathy with unfamiliar others, thereby being unfair to what love is. Yes, love includes empathy, but it’s supposed to be about mutually being with each other over time. (Hear that, evangelicals.)

Expressing empathy may overstep an aptness of compassion, because one isn’t in a position
to genuinely know what the other is going through. (Sympathy is not the same as empathy.)

Compassion may overstep an aptness of genuineness, because caring isn’t basically about another’s difficulty. Compassion implies a shared understanding of difficulty that may not
be yet validated by the other as knowable by you.

And genuineness may overstep an aptness of decency, because there may be no implicit calling by the other for more than just letting her/him be.

Appropriateness is gauged through communication—through the best rapport that can be made together. For persons in regular interaction (sustaining an interpersonal domain of separate lives), appreciation depends on good ongoing communicative mutuality.

So, Michelle avows “this is who we still are: compassionate, resilient, decent people whose fortunes are bound up with one another.”

That truth is perfectly expressed. “And it is well past time for our leaders to once again reflect our truth.”

“Compassion is on the ballot,” Biden insists. “Decency is on the ballot.” That’s a minimum.
Can we hope that someday a fullness of, say, virtue is on the ballot?

Exemplary Michelle wants “a strong moral foundation to carry forward values.” But her entire sense of that conforms with explicitly ethical life, which is internally based, rather than based on an externalism that is commonly associated with being “moral.”

In fact, ‘moral’ is etymologically just the Latin term for Greek ethikos, from ethos: custom.
To be ethical is to be customary—which is not even a rich sense of being conventional. Of course, conceptions of being ethical are by now a conceptual industry in professional philosophy.

How “moral” became deontic (thus distinctly non-ethical: not “merely” ethical) is a story unrelated to authentic self determination. (In short, it’s about need for rational law, in my view.)

Michelle wants a strong ethical foundation to carry forward values. That foundation is less structural than a generative mutuality across generations, that I’ve associated with concerted cultivation in parenting (which can be transposed well to teaching and enablative leadership).

Funny: Michelle refers to “values that our parents and grandparents poured into us.”

The vitally important “carrying forward” is a matter of “work in common purpose” (Biden), which spans the domains of culural, systemic, and institutional life.

Who we are, in goodness, is a matter of orienting life in light of “what we truly value” (Michelle). “It’s a moment,” declares Biden, “that calls for…light to see our way forward.”


next—> from cultural values to political values



  Be fair. © 2020, g. e. davis