Living Beyond Rivalry (series)

Sightings of ‘beyond rivalry’ moments in real life: averting and avoiding envy, jealousy, revenge, retribution, tit for tat, kneejerk reaction, scapegoating, holy wars, striving against, and other forms of violence.

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Both reported in the 11 Dec 2010 Wall Street Journal (and elsewhere):

1. Excerpted from Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s longer ‘final statement,’ made before he started serving an 11-year prison sentence in China:

I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who have monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. . . .

“For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. I hope therefore to be able to transcend my personal vicissitudes . . . to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love. . . .

2. From Are Heroes Born, or Can They Be Made? by Jonah Lehrer, about Stanford pysch professor Philip Zimbardo’s 4-week course for teens on being heroic:

Zimbardo says:

“We’ve been saddled for too long with this mystical view of heroism.  … We assume heroes are demigods. But they’re not. A hero is just an ordinary person who does something extraordinary. I believe we can use science to teach people how to do that.”

How? By unteaching violent mimesis (q.v. the conformity and compliance studies by Zimbardo, Milgram, Asch, etc., showing that people tend to blindly obey authority and follow the lead of others in administering cruelty and ignoring others’ pain) and teaching pacific mimesis, by learning to model behaviour on others’ heroic actions:

“Because human behavior is profoundly shaped by those around us — we are all natural ‘peer modelers’ — the project attempts to give students a more heroic set of peers. ‘Just look at the Milgram experiment,’ Mr. Zimbardo says. ‘Everybody uses that as an example of how bad people are. But the actual data aren’t so depressing. If subjects watched someone else refuse to issue shocks, then they almost always refused, too. The hero created another hero.'”

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