The Worldwide Empathy Deficit

How fear keeps us from manifesting the best in ourselves

Politics is informed with some of our best intentions, with much of our lust for ‘improvement’ and with all of our fears, petty and grandiose, paranoid and consequential. We have seen a great and resonant turning toward better instincts in the US, with an election that for good reasons inspires hope and may allow us to manifest more than ever those “better angels of our nature”, but we must recongize that in order to manifest the best in ourselves, we must start by overcoming our own habits of fear and division.

It is still commonplace, all too much so, to hear the phrase “human nature” used to excuse or explain unspeakable betrayals. It is still commonplace for people on the street, or in grocery-store checkout lines, or at airports, to mutter under their breaths about the types of people they fear or would like to be rid of. We are still caught up, in some way, in ever corner of our global civilization, with the need to know who it is that we should dislike, ostracize or fear.

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Clintonistas, Busheviks & Obamaphiles: Beyond Labeling :: The media are ablaze with speculation about whether President-elect Obama will be able to “control the Clintons”, whether his stature is so monumental and secure, after an admittedly meteoric rise, that the vanquished senator from New York will devotedly voice his foreign policy and look good doing it, whether the White House will be infiltrated by “re-treads” from the Clinton years, whether the socialist bailouts of George W. Bush’s own red October are enough to give Obama a pass on the anti-supply-side dictates of a potentially necessary “new New Deal”.

We hear at a constant clip the talk of “Clintonistas” coming “back to power”, of “Bushies” and “Busheviks” leaving a scorched earth behind them in Washington, with the entire potential for cross-party negotiation having to be restructured from scratch, of “Obamaphiles” calling down prophetic hopes from a blue sky vision of national renaissance, a 21st century reshaping of the messianic strain of Western thought. We are asked to believe that major policy initiatives are as easy to formulate or predict as a seating chart, as judged by résumés, for the first Obama cabinet meeting.

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The Transition to Governing: Reversing a Perfect Storm

Sen. Barack Obama, as president-elect, now faces the daunting task of staging a transition from campaign to governing, and from the Bush years to the Obama years, in what must be the most artful and adroit performance of the task seen in decades. Facing two wars, looming multifaceted economic crisis, and the need to overhaul national energy policy and fight environmental degradation on an unprecedented scale, Obama is faced not just with forming a cabinet and White House team, but formulating a strategy for enacting the change he has promised in a time of historic difficulty.

Reversing a perfect storm of crisis, deficit and discontent is the tall task that from day one threatens to distract Sen. Obama from his ambitious policy proposals to effect change across the board and restore institutional efficiency and fairness in American government. He will have to fashion solutions for a time of economic upheaval, real security problems relating to at least two wars, a policy approach to what appear to be Chinese and Russian expansionist ambitions, and do so within the context of his own policy proposals and campaign promises.

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Barack Obama is the President We Need, in Challenging Times

Café Sentido’s first official editorial endorsement of a candidate for public office


Renewal is the keyword for this election. Change is the bridge that will take us to the place of renewal, but the intent behind the change message, must be renewal. It is vital to examine the candidates’ proposals for the direction of our nation, in this light. Who can best harness what is best in the American system of laws and in the landscape of American values, to effect an historic renewal of faith in our institutions and of commitment to civic responsibility and prosperity and dynamism in our society, generally?

Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, is the candidate that is best positioned to offer this solution to our nation, in these troubled and challenging times. His positive vision of a dynamic American society, capable of innovating to combat a global energy crisis, principled in defending Constitutional law and human rights, combines the open and dynamic nature of American democratic culture with an energetic commitment to tackling new challenges, motivating a resurgence of the kind of major projects that will help rebuild and spur our economy.

The distinction between the two candidates’ visions, in this respect, has become even more evident due to the destructive and hollow campaign tactics adopted by Sen. McCain and his party. In a vicious attempt to smear Sen. Obama with some vague responsibility for the actions of individuals over whom he holds no actual responsibility and whose views he has denounced, the campaign of Sen. John McCain has sought to poison the electoral process, distract the minds of voters, and obscure what appears to be an inability to compete in the realm of ideas.

That sort of campaign of distraction is destructive to the healthy functioning of democracy and ignores the basic right of the electorate to govern its elected officials with the advantage of reliable information, firmly in hand. Fudging the truth for political gain can lead to ill-conceived policies that undermine the wellbeing of the nation (the 2003 WMD policy debacle, and ensuing war, are just one example).

Sen. Obama’s approach to domestic and foreign policy is consistently principled and pragmatist, rooted in an understanding of our system of laws, its founding ideals and the nature of our liberties. His policies hint at an underlying philosophy that seeks to do what is necessary to achieve the highest goals of our practical ambition, yet always uphold that essential allegiance to the “better angels of our nature”, work together with those whose collaboration we need and be firm about the rule of law and the fundamentals that give us a moral high-ground in dealing with the broader world.

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Exposición SUPERDOME en Le Palais de Tokyo, París, Explora la ‘Doctrina del Shock’

Recién inaugurada en el Palais de Tokyo, en París, Francia, ‘Superdome’ explora el sufrimiento humano vinculado con situaciones donde el desastre se sigue con transformaciones socio-económicas de escala casi incomprensible. La exposición concentra su atención temática en la situación que encontraron los habitantes de Nueva Orleans, cuando el huracán “Katrina” y su consecuente desintegración cívica los desplazaron hacia un caos tormentoso, su entorno físico devastado, forzados a llevar el peso extraño de ver cómo se borró la geografía económica de su ciudad para ser reemplazada por algo desconocido.

El tema de conversación que se escuchaba con frecuencia en la boca de los invitados en la noche del estreno era si se pudiera averiguar cualquier hilo unificador entre los 5 distintos espacios que formaban parte de la exposición. Un elefante equilibrándose sobre su trompa, un cañón de aire que tira botellas de cerveza a 600 km/hora, una sala llena de los escombros de un desastre, relojes antiguos de péndulo, una exploración del “Lado Oscuro”, un puzzle gris de alfombra que significa o inclusión o exclusión, la familiaridad o la diferencia.

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