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Communication as a promoter of human empathy.

The following is excerpted from a comment to a friends Facebook wall post concerning humanities pending control over life itself. (Recent announcement of synthetic life being created) I advocate the view that if we do not learn to embrace the sanctity of all life and in particular human life before the costs of weilding this power come down we may end up destroying ourselves.

We have already seen the distal effects of empathy in averting what would otherwise have been great tragedy just by the hyper connected communication streams we share today. What would have happened in the former Yugoslavia if our communication technology were still morse code? Total extermination of Bosnian Muslim by Christian Serb, and the world wouldn't have known until far too late and then not really cared. "Those slavic people who are they ?"


What would have happened in Georgia when Russia decided it was going to invade and take over Abkhasia? More massacre, and we would not know about it for months or years after.

What would have happened in Rwanda, surely not the amicable peace that exists between Hutu and Tutsi today, total genocide in the vacuum of international deafness to the plight and inability to assert actions (even if late) to stem the blood shed.

What would have happened to Lebanon two years ago when Israel invaded, bombing an entire country supposedly in order to get Hezbollah militants pestering it with bottle rockets at its northern border? More total killing without any way for the international community to indicate it's view and thus modify the behavior.

We are now globally social animals and the same proclivities against bad behavior we have in small groups that object to actions we may wish to take against the group or an individual in the group we now have on a global scale.

Would Iran have simply tolerated the protests of the Green revolution last year had the eyes of the world in the form of cell phones and the mouths of the world in the form of tv and blogs on the internet were not ever listening ? Unable to be quieted down with propaganda? No.

Our communicative isolation in the past let astonishing atrocities like the Bolshevik revolution toll occur in relative silence as Lenin asserted his way, they similarly allowed Stalin and Mao to the the same. The same killing that was done across the centuries by the Egyptians, Greeks, the Romans, the Caliphates, the Vandals, the Franks, the Mongols ...now aided by modern killing machinery reached a new level of efficiency. Luckily ...Something different happened with the birth of the internet and more specifically the web 20 years ago...we went from communicating by major media outlets or government run versions of the same to a million broadcasting individual agents. A million cracks in the dam of potential propaganda and information restriction that otherwise would enable concentration of atrocity as occurred in the first half of the 20th century.

Today, because of our hyper communication all the worlds eyes are on all of us and we all know it and that modifies behavior in itself. Now take this to the next step and make language irrelevant...not only are we communicating without care for linguistic or cultural borders but we are free of the mental bias that would otherwise exist if we did know. The ignorance , probably for the first time in history is actually good for us...as we now engage others on terms of who they are and how they relate to us alone, not by what language they speak or where they are from. Yes, of course empathy will be more local between geographically proximal human beings when it comes to being *practiced* (but only marginally so in the sense that today if I feel pity for a man on the street I can directly interact with him by giving him money for food, similarly I can interact virtually with a homeless person in Guatemala by donating to a charity that does the same) but the *desire* to practice empathy on those far away is near parity with those that are local. Language stands as a barrier to you even knowing of a small child in a village in western China who could use a donation, it would stop you from communicating with that boy if he had an OLTP (free third world laptop) as he probably reads (if he does read) in Chinese character sets and not the Roman alphabet. If we flatten this last barrier, a major gap in how human we perceive others far away will be taken away as the masses will be free to communicate across geographical *and* language borders.

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