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Passover 2018: We are Still Slaves

Growing up, I always loved Passover. In our house it was a family affair preparing -- changing dishes, making the food for the seders, setting the table, sitting around our large room sized table with everyone whom I loved, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends and some strays and first timers. It was magical!!! Especially singing with my dad as he lead the seder!
I was very familiar with the entire story of the Exodus, Moses, Pharaoh and the 10 plagues, but the idea of “slavery” of the Israelites was kind of lost on a young child from South Orange, New Jersey in the 50’s and 60’s. Later study provided me with more facts, archaeological, historical, etc.
Over the last few decades, new evidence about the Exodus has emerged in the form of Egyptian scrolls and architectural discoveries that talk about a Semitic Expulsion by the native Egyptians, who were a North African people. Invading Semitic groups conquered Egypt and ruled for over 200 years and were driven out. In the Torah …
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Forgiveness -- One of The Strangest Things Humans Do!

Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. I have been reading (and studying) his latest book -- Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (pp. 640-642) and wanted to share the insights with you. I added underlines to highlight certain points.
One of the strangest things humans do is we forgive. For starters, forgiving is not forgetting. If nothing else, that’s neurobiologically unlikely . . . Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what he did.
There is a subset of victims who claim to have forgiven the perpetrator, to have relinquished their anger and desire for punishment. I include the word “claim” not to imply skepticism but to indicate that forgiveness is a self-reported state that can be claimed but not proven.
Forgiveness can occur as a religious imperative. In the June 2015 Charleston church massacre, white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine parishioners a…

Rejection: Cain’s Dilemma! The Human Dilemma!

I woke up today to the radio’s report of the latest school shooting incident. It’s strange, at this point it is very upsetting, but not shocking anymore. The facts are: there have been 18 shootings in the first 45 days of 2018.
Is it just a symptom of “our times”, the divisiveness, mean spiritedness, the self-absorbedness?
Is it just another consequence of our Brain Hacked culture which feeds on constant personal pleasure at the expense of personal relationships and obligations to others?
Are we now absolved of the responsibility to everything and everyone, including ourselves?
Only “ME” “NO WE?"
This is not anything new!!! The story of Cain and Able in Genesis is weird anyway. I mean, if everyone is supposedly vegetarian until after the flood, why is Able a shepherd? Further, this story parallels an ancient Egyptian story concerning a battle between a Farmer god and a Shepherd god. Further than that! In the previous story, Adam and Eve, Yahweh curses the ground and the serpe…

Created to Protect Rights Instead of Acting Like Animals

In a time when “rights” motivate people to take part in protest movements and are proclaimed as the authority behind the actions special interests group, it seems to be a good time to remind people of the link of “rights” to the “inalienable rights” of the Declaration of Independence. I don’t think many Americans understand the founders’ view of the purpose of rights and how they expected them to be used.
The following quote is from Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen © 2014l Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York, NY; pages 176-177. Dr. Allen is a professor of government at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. Highlights have been added to stress specific points.
Nature makes us creatures who are prepared to protect ourselves and gives us the tools we need for that work. We ourselves are the ones who punish people who try to take away our inalienable rights to life, libert…

Prewired Moral Compass and Trust

Every newborn arrives with a considerably complex brain that is flexible and subject to change – and a Prewired Moral Radar in its genes. Infants are prewired to move in one of two directions when their Moral Radar identifies specific types of human behaviors.
Move toward fairness, kindness, loyalty and caring.
Move away from cheating, cruelty, betrayal and indifference.1
As infants grow their brains mature and they are socialized by the people around them. They will add other behaviors to their Moral Radar and labels that identify the things they move toward as good or right and the things they move away from as bad, evil or wrong. Morality is a synthesis of the biological and the cultural, of the unlearned, the discovered and the invented.2
However, deep within all of the trillions of cells that make up the human body is that Prewired Moral Radar we all arrived with. It alerts us through feelings when it identifies the human behaviors in the two groups above. At the very deep subcon…

Do You Know the Differences Between Pleasure and Happiness?

Pleasure and happiness are both positive emotions, highly valued by humans, and both reasons for initiative and personal betterment. It’s hard to be happy if you derive no pleasure for your efforts — but this is exactly what is seen in the various forms of addiction.
Conversely, if you are perennially unhappy, as is so often seen in patients with clinical depression, you may lose the impetus to better your social position in life, and it’s virtually impossible to derive pleasure for your efforts.
Pleasure and happiness rely on the presence of the other and are by no means mutually exclusive. However, they are decidedly different phenomena and making clear distinctions between them is an important life skill.
● The lowest baseline level of happiness is contentment which takes place in the brain’s Contentment Pathway. It is the emotional state where the brain says, “This feels good — I don’t want or need any more.”
Pleasure takes place in the brain’s Reward Pathway. It is the emotional …