Sympathy or Empathy

Sympathy or Empathy

Sympathy is dropping coins into the beggars cup. Empathy is becoming the beggar.

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Brandon Blankenship
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Leaderboards Make the Unseen Seen

Leaderboards Make the Unseen Seen

I’m not sure that leaderboards are appropriate for children’s early development years

There is some value and leaderboards for children as they transition from child to adult. Leaderboards make seen something that is naturally happening to children but is unseen. It concretizes the experience of distribution so that they see what they have and will experience in the world around them.

As long as there is scarcity, there will be an ordering in society. Some will have more and some will have less.1 This may even be true, just less impactful in an abundant society. That is an exercise in futility to consider, however, because we know that during this age there will never be a society without poverty. And as long as there is poverty, there will be an ordering of society. Some will have more and some will have less.

And this ordering is not limited to money. Someone will always be safer, have more love and belonging, have more confidence and more self-actualization.

The question then becomes what are the reasons why certain people have more and certain people have less. And this is magnified around the breaking point for a sustainable life. It is magnified when we are considering who gets more food and who gets less. Who gets more water and who gets less? Who gets more healthcare and who gets less? Who gets clean air and it gets less? Who gets fuel for warmth in freezing temperatures and who gets less?

We know these questions are being considered because we hear them when people ask, “how come?” How come they get this and I don’t? How come they get that and I don’t? The hard answer to that question is complex. I can answer some of the parts of this question, but not all. At least three forces are at work: natural consequences, personability, and luck or blessing.

Leaderboards make the unseen, seen. When someone’s name is ordered on a leaderboard their position is ordered so they can clearly see where there are. Perhaps more importantly, the criteria for movement on the board is clear. If the person wants to change their position on the leaderboard, they need only follow the criteria.

In most of life, the leaderboard is unseen. The criteria for movement are not clear. A response might be to see the leaderboard as an object lesson for life. There is a leaderboard and there are undisclosed criteria for movement on the unseen leaderboard. Maybe it would be better to learn the skills to discover what the criteria are and change our place on the leaderboard rather than sit where we are and ask, “how come?”

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Brandon Blankenship
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  1. See generally, Matthew 26:11
Wholesight

Wholesight

According to Michael C. Braswell in Justice, Crime, and Ethics, wholesight includes both the heart and the head in one’s decision making. It results in working together for the common good.

In Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes that

Without the aid of trained emotions, the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics but bred to believe that “a gentleman does not cheat,” than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharper.

In battle, it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use. We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element.”

The head rules the belly through the chest – the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment – these are the indispensable liaison officers between the cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.

Braswell’s definition of wholesight then is at least one-third short. He proposes that the process of decision-making should be an internal narrative between the heart and the head. He includes in “heart” both the sentiments of the heart and the appetites of the belly. This leaves the appetites of the belly an advantage. First, they are hidden. They are not openly examined during the decision-making process. Next, they are not governed by an adequate force. The head may oppose the appetites, but the appetites are persistent and they have the ally of the body. The head will often yield to the appetites and ultimately justify or otherwise defend them. The morbidly obese person trying to lose weight, for example, will often reason that one more cheeseburger is reasonable.

Wholesight is including the
heart, head, and belly
in one’s decision-making process.

For the definition of wholesight to be whole, it must be that one includes the heart, the head, and the belly in one’s decision-making.

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Brandon Blankenship
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Hedge’s Modernized Rules of Honorable Controversy

Hedge’s Modernized Rules of Honorable Controversy

arrogant /ˈerəɡənt/ having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or ability

controversy /ˈkäntrəˌvərsē/ disagreement

debate /dəˈbāt/ argue about a subject

honorable /ˈänərəb(ə)l/ bringing or worth high respect and great esteem

proof /pro͞of/ evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement

Rule 1st:

Agree on the subject in controversy and the definitions of the terms used during the debate.

There should never be any misunderstanding about the subject in controversy. If misunderstanding arises, the debate will likely be less respectful and take a much longer time to resolve – this is because both parties will be on different pages, thinking they are on the same page.1

Rule 2nd:

Each party should assume that the other parties in the debate stand on equal footing with respect to the subject in controversy. Assume that all parties possess equal talents, knowledge, and desire for truth and that it is possible, therefore, that each party, even themselves, may be in the wrong, and their adversaries in the right.

In the heat of controversy, people often forget how often they have been wrong in the past. Consider that there have been major developments in almost every subject that revealed that long-held beliefs were error. Holding onto those beliefs results in presumptions, confidence, and arrogant language; all of which obstruct the discovery of truth.

Rule 3rd:

All expressions not directly related to the subject in controversy should be strictly avoided

Debate one subject in controversy at a time. Expressions that contribute nothing to the proof or the question; or jump from one subject to another; or impassioned expressions are other subjects not directly related to the subject in controversy.

Rule 4th:

Avoid commenting on the personal character of an adversary.

Good people can do bad and bad people can do good. Personal character comments are not only useless with respect to the subject in controversy but can produce real evil… They indicate in the person who uses them a mind hostile to the truth; for they prevent even solid arguments from receiving the attention to which they are justly entitled. 

Rule 5th:

No one has a right to accuse their adversary of hidden motives.

Arguments are to be answered, whether the person who offers them is sincere or not; especially as their insincerity, if real, could not be ascertained. To inquire into their motives, then, is useless. To accuse them of indirect motives is … wounding.

Rule 6th:

The results of any debate are not to be awarded to the person who maintains it unless they expressly own them.

If an absurd consequence is fairly deductible from any proof, it is rightly concluded that the proof itself is false; but it is not rightly concluded that the person who advances it, supports the absurd consequence. The charitable presumption, in such a case, would be that the person had never made the deduction. Assume that if the opponent had considered this result they would not have argued for it in the first place.2

Rule 7th:

As truth, and not victory, is the professed object of controversy, whatever proofs may be advanced, on either side, should be examined with fairness and candor; and any attempt to ensnare an adversary with false proofs, or to lessen the force of his reasoning, by wit, petty or unnecessary objections, or ridicule, is a violation of the rules of honorable controversy.

Neighbor, can we live with these rules?


I was originally introduced to these rules by Prof. Gerald Jones. The original (below) was discovered in the Encyclopedia of English Grammar: Designed For the Use of Schools, Academies and Private Learners by William Hall and printed by Scott & Bascom, Columbus, OH (1850).

Hedge acknowledged that because human knowledge is limited and that known and newly discovered knowledge may be “contemplated by different minds” through “different points if view” controversy is a tool to test knowledge. The risk of controversy is that it is “oftentimes conducted with such intemperate and misguided zeal, as to inflame animosities, by which the comfort and harmony of society are impaired.” Hedge’s 1850 writing is just as relevant today.

I would join Mr. Hedge in the position, however, that even with those societal risks, the value of properly conducted controversy is immeasurably good. I would lift it to another level — it is a national moral that makes the United States great. The structure of a three-branch government, yes. Sovereignty divided between the federal and state governments, yes. Powers reserved to the citizenry, yes. But the resulting tension resolved through controversy, civil discourse, it is a national moral.

It is a beautiful thing to encounter modern students, often classically educated, who can take a position and deploy rhetoric and authority to artfully, and honorably, defend it. The student and the observer benefits from the encounter.

It is an ugly thing to encounter disruption disguised as controversy. It is evil to deploy those same rhetorical skills to dehumanize or reduce people. It is evil to twist authority to win for the sole sake of victory rather than what is right or good. So, “it is incumbent on all who engage in [controversy], from whatever motives, to observe rigorously those laws and principles by which [evil] may be avoided and [good] secured. The following rules, sometimes called canons of controversy, have been highly approved by writers of learning and discernment:”3

Hedge’s Rules of Honorable Controversy (Original)

  1. The terms, in which the question in debate is expressed, and the precise point at issue, should be so clearly defined, that there could be no misunderstanding respecting them.

If this is not done, the dispute is liable to be, in a great degree, verbal. Arguments will be misapplied, and the controversy protracted, because the parties engaged in it have different apprehensions of the question.

  1. The parties should mutually consider each other, as standing on a footing of equality in respect to the subject in debate. Each should regard the other as possessing equal talents, knowledge, and desire for truth, with himself; and that it is possible, therefore, that he may be in the wrong, and his adversary in the right.

In the heat of controversy, men are apt to forget the numberless sources of error, which exist in every controverted subject, especially of theology and metaphysics. Hence arise presumptions, confidence, and arrogant language; all which obstruct the discovery of truth.

  1. All expressions, which are unmeaning, or without effect in regard to the subject in debate, should be strictly avoided.

All expressions may be considered as unmeaning, which contribute nothing to the proof or the question; such as desultory remarks and declamatory expressions…

  1. Personal reflections on an adversary should in no instance be indulged….

Personal reflections are not only destitute of effect, in respect to the question in discussion, but they are productive of real evil… They indicate in him, who uses them, a mind hostile to the truth; for they prevent even solid arguments from receiving the attention to which they are justly entitled.

  1. No one has aright to accuse his adversary of indirect motive.

Arguments are to be answered, whether he, who offers them, be sincere or not; especially as his want of sincerity, if real, could not be ascertained. To inquire into his motives, then, is useless. To ascribe indirect ones to him is … hurtful.

  1. The consequences of any doctrine are not to be charged on him who maintains it, unless he expressly avows them.

If an absurd consequence be fairly deductible from any doctrine, it is rightly concluded that the doctrine itself is false; but it is not rightly concluded that he who advances it, supports the absurd consequence. The charitable presumption, in such a case, would be, that he had never made the deduction; and that, if he had made it, he would have abandoned the original doctrine.

  1. As truth, and not victory, is the professed object of controversy, whatever proofs may be advanced, on either side, should be examined with fairness and candor; and any attempt to ensnare an adversary by the arts of sophistry, or to lessen the force of his reasoning, by wit, caviling, or ridicule, is a violation of the rules of honorable controversy.

Brethren, can we live with the rules?

Brandon Blankenship
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  1. Thanks to Aleena Khan for her contribution to modernizing this rule.
  2. Thanks to Billy Hill for his contribution to modernizing this rule.
  3. Encyclopedia, Page 437.
Spontaneity is Something Different Than Agility

Spontaneity is Something Different Than Agility

In business and humanity, spontaneity is something different than agility. Spontaneity acts as a catalyst for agility. When trapped, it is the spark that starts the fire of something new. When stuck, it is the energy that propels the pivot.

Spontaneity cannot be stored but it is accessible.

Spontaneity is the answer for the indefinitely back-ordered manufacturer and saves the life of people considering suicide.

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Brandon Blankenship
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Spontaneity in Business

Spontaneity in Business

The best webcam on the market today for the home office is the Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam. After hundreds of hours of online instructing, meeting, and socializing, I have put this claim to the test. I created several video conferencing stations around my home to avoid being stuck in one place or position. I have tested numerous webcams and this one is by far the best. The video and sound that it produces are high quality and the system resources it consumes to do it are comparatively small. Contrast, for example, Microsoft’s webcam. After using it – or rather attempting to use it – for several long meetings, I just threw it in the trash.

Logitech has the opportunity to dominate the webcam market right now. Due to COVID-19, for the past four months and continuing indefinitely, businesses have been forced to modify how they deliver products and services, how they conduct meetings and conferences. Customers who would not have considered video conferencing are now happy to get something more than a phone call or an email. Logitech missed the opportunity because it failed to deploy spontaneity.

Spontaneity is responding to a new problem or an old problem in a new way. There is a lot we don’t know about Logitech. What we do know is that prior to COVID-19 there was no spontaneity at the work table or that the leadership did not value the spontaneity that was at the work table. There was nobody at the work table saying, “Hey – what if there is a catastrophic event that requires us to increase our production 100 fold, how could we pivot and make that happen?” We can learn from Logitech’s mistake. We can invite spontaneity to the work table. And when it shows up, we can listen.
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Brandon Blankenship
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