Thursday, November 21, 2013


EMPATHY, SYMPATHY, KINDNESS, COMPASSION NEWSLETTER #1.  November 21,   2013.  Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Caring.  

Recent Compassion Games events inspired for me a time of reflection about the meaning of compassion and gratitude for the opportunity.  --Dick


Contents #1
  Compassion Fayetteville
  Compassion Games
  Peace at Home
  OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology
  United Nations
  O’Brien, Buddhism
  Karen Armstrong, Charter for Compassion
 Tuttle, World Peace Diet
  Barbara Lee, Compassion and Choices
  The Center for Victims of Torture
   Totten, Post-Genocide Education Fund, Children of Genocide
   MVFR, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation
Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life (the subject of many of Schweitzer’s books and     speeches)
Barry,  Unmaking War, Remaking Men: Increase Empathy, Decrease  Aggression,   Violence, and Wars

Definitions from Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991 

.   “Compassion:  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone struck by misfortune, accompanied by a desire to alleviate the suffering.” 
    “Sympathy:  1.  harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.  2.  the harmony of feeling existing between persons of like tastes or opinion or of congenial dispositions.  3.   the ability to share the feelings of another, esp. in sorrow or trouble; compassion; commiseration (8 definitions in all plus several synonyms, a stimulating word).
     “Empathy:  1.  the identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, etc., of another.  2.  the imaginative ascribing to an object of one’s feelings or attitudes [?this defin. sounds like projection --Dick]. . . Syn. See Sympathy.”
     “Kind:  adj.  1. of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person; compassionate…3. considerate or helpful; humane…”
     “Humanitarian: 1. having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.  2. of or pertaining to ethical or theological humanitarianism.” (2 more, related, definitions are given).

So?  Compassion and Sympathy defin. #3 are similar, differing only in degree (compassion is “deep sympathy”), and both are aspects of Empathy defin. #1.  Humanitarianism brings those feelings and identifications to action, not just a desire to  alleviate suffering but actually acting to do so.

The compiler of the “sympathy” entry goes on to link the synonyms empathy, compassion,  and pity, which “denote the tendency or capacity to share the feelings of others,” and then the compiler distinguishes their more precise meanings.  A very rare mini-essay for any standard dictionary.  --Dick

LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS (i.e. a brief sample from NW Arkansas, where dozens of organizations identify with others, esp. those in distress and needing care)

Faith and Spirituality Team Presents
Compassion Café

Compassion Fayetteville has scheduled a Compassion Conversation Café for Saturday, November 23rd from 10 am - 12 noon in Parish Hall at St Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The meeting will revolve around a moderated panel discussion followed by group café conversations.

Here the compassionate stories of giving and receiving from a panel consisting of people from a variety of backgrounds discussing the nuances of practicing compassion in their lives and how it can be expressed in Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas. The panel moderated by David Williams consists of Don Bennett of Tricycle Farms; Yassamin Mirdamadi, UA Director of Testing Services and International Student Issues; XXX from Seven Hills Homeless Shelter; Dawn Jones of Washington Plaza Food Pantry; Liz Finan of Circle of Life; Jaclyn Keeter, Program Director Faith in Action Senior Center.

Compassion Fayetteville Conversation Café is an open, hosted conversation and is designed for people to gather together to learn what compassion is and how to better express it in our community. At a Conversation Cafe there is nothing to join, no homework, no agenda, just a simple process that helps to shift us from small talk to BIG talk, i.e., conversations that will make a difference.

Compassion Fayetteville is an initiative developed from the Fayetteville Forward Economic Accountability Council's (FFEAC) Inclusion Group. Compassion Fayetteville is a cooperative effort by a group of citizens who are volunteering their time to increase awareness, encourage and promote a culture of compassion through identifying, supporting and initiating new compassionate actions in Fayetteville.   We are working to earn designation as a Compassionate City by Compassionate Action Network International, a worldwide network founded and inspired by the Charter for Compassion, a document that transcends religious, ideological, and cultural differences. All individuals, groups and organizations are welcome to participate.

Compassion Fayetteville, Fayetteville Forward Inclusion Group, 2012.  Pattie Williams, 443-2096 to learn about Compassionate Cities
Course on COMPASSION, 12-weeks Thursdays, Feb. 21-May 9, 2012, 6 to 8, $85.   Servant Leadership School of NWA.   Hosted by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

From: Elise Burt <>
Date: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Subject: Compassion Games
The Compassion Games, “Survival of the Kindest” 2013
from September 11th, 2013 through September 21st, 2013.
Will you join us?
 Public informational meeting Wednesday, August 28
Learn how you and/or your organization can participate
 Walker Rm, Fayetteville Library  6-7:30pm
Sponsored by Compassion Fayetteville
 All are encouraged to attend

The games are part of the International Compassionate Cities ( movement and are designed to help, heal and inspire, make communities safer, kinder, more just and better places to live. 

The games are being facilitated by members of the Compassion Fayetteville planning team. We are focusing primarily on doing random acts of compassion/kindness and writing and reporting stories of compassion.
By participating, players are called upon to perform acts of service and kindness in our neighborhoods, on the job, in service-providing agencies, and wherever their daily journey takes them for those they know, those unknown, for the Earth or for themselves.
There are no winners or losers in the Compassion Games. Instead, winners multiply the more the games are played. Compassion Games and activities are designed to have social impact, to help us try new things, and build relationships and trust. They are an example of a cultural invention that demonstrates what is possible when we use coopetition to cooperate and to compete with each other.  
The web site is:   
So far, this year's contenders are: 
Atlanta, Cincinnati, Fayetteville, Gurgaon, India, Houston, LGBT, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, Nashville, New York, Orange Co.,CA, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Contacts: Nancy Harris, Pattie Williams, Connie Crisp or Kati Street     

We invite you to open the PDF Attachment included in this e mail.  Feel free to use this to print out and post as a way to help us spread the word.
563K   View   Download  
See below for more information about Armstrong’s Compassionate Charter


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By Dick Bennett.     Scarcely any of OMNI’s projects or individual actions has lacked compassion as a motive and a method.   “Compassion:  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone struck by misfortune, accompanied by a desire to alleviate the suffering.”  (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary).  Naturally, most of our programs are local; people tend to empathize more with people they know—family, friends, city, state, region, nation.   Fayetteville has many compassionate organizations seeking to alleviate the suffering experienced by unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the ill, the persecuted, the bullied.   But OMNI, as a part of the international movement for peace, justice, and the environment, also seeks to expand feelings of compassion beyond national attachments to all who suffer.  Think globally, act locally, act globally.  For example, consider its newsletters for the month of October 2013 and Nov. to the 6th.
Vegetarian Potluck (sympathy for animals)
Drones (#12)
Israel-Palestinians (#9)
Hammarskjold and UN
Domestic Violence
Gandhi’s Birthday
UN Food Day and Hunger Day
Just War Theory
Support the Troops (bring them home)
Vietnam War
Syria War 


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Buddhism and Compassion

Compassion, Wisdom, and the Path

·                                 Compassion

·                                 Zen Buddhism

·                                 Meditation Buddhism

·                                 Teachings of Buddhism

·                                 Tibetan Buddhism
See More About
·                        prajna
·                        bodhichitta
·                        karuna
·                        compassion
·                        eightfold path
The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion are sometimes compared to two wings that work together to enable flying, or two eyes that work together to see deeply.
In the West, we're taught to think of "wisdom" as something that is primarily intellectual and "compassion" as something that is primarily emotional, and that these two things are separate and even incompatible. We're led to believe that fuzzy, sappy emotion gets in the way of clear, logical wisdom. But this is not a Buddhist understanding.
The Sanskrit word usually translated as "wisdom" isprajna (in Pali, panna). I understand this word could also be translated as "consciousness," "discernment," or "insight." The many schools of Buddhism understand prajna somewhat differently, but generally we could say that prajna is understanding or discernment of the Buddha's teaching, especially the teaching of anatta, no self.
The word usually translated as "compassion" iskaruna, which is understood to mean active sympathy or a willingness to bear the pain of others. In practice, prajna gives rise to karuna, and karuna gives rise to prajna. Truly, you can't have one without the other. They are a means to realizing enlightenment, and they are also enlighenment manifested.

Compassion as Training

In Buddhism, the ideal of practice is to selflessly act to alleviate suffering wherever it appears. You may argue it is impossible to eliminate suffering, and maybe it is, yet we're to respond anyway.
What does being nice to others have to do with enlightenment? For one thing, it helps us realize that "individual me" and "individual you" are mistaken ideas. And as long as we're stuck in the idea of "what's in it for me?" we are not yetwise.
In Being Upright: Zen and the Bodhisattva Precepts, Soto Zen teacher Reb Anderson wrote, "Reaching the limits of practice as a separate personal activity, we are ready to receive help from the compassionate realms beyond our discriminating awareness."
Reb Anderson continued, "We realize the intimate connection between the conventional truth and the ultimate truth through the practice of compassion. It is through compassion that we become thoroughly grounded in the conventional truth and thus prepared to receive the ultimate truth. Compassion brings great warmth and kindness to both perspectives. It helps us to be flexible in our interpretation of the truth, and teaches us to give and receive help in practicing the precepts."
In The Essence of the Heart Sutra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote,
"According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It's not passive -- it's not empathy alone -- but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness)."

No Thanks

Have you ever seen someone do something courteous and then get angry for not being properly thanked? True compassion has no expectation of reward, even a simple "thank you," attached to it. Expecting a reward maintains the idea of a separate self and a separate other.
The ideal of dana paramita -- the perfection of giving -- is "no giver, no receiver." For this reason, traditionally begging monks receive alms silently and do not express thanks. Of course, in the conventional world there are givers and receivers, but it's important to remember that the act of giving is not possible without receiving. Thus, givers and receivers create each other, and one is not superior to the other.
That said, feeling and expressing gratitude chips away at our selfishness, so unless you are a begging monk it's all right to say "thank you" when appropriate.

Developing Compassion

To draw on an old joke, you get to be more compassionate the same way you get to Carnegie Hall -- practice.
It's already been noted that compassion arises from wisdom, just as wisdom arises from compassion. If you're feeling neither especially wise nor compassionate you may feel the whole project is hopeless. But the nun and teacher Pema Chodron says, "start where you are." Whatever mess your life is right now is the soil from which enlightenment may grow.
In truth, although you may take one step at a time, Buddhism is not a "one step at a time" process. Each of the eight parts of the Eightfold Path support all the other parts. Every step integrates all the steps.
That said, most people begin by better understanding their own suffering, which takes us back to prajna, wisdom. Usually meditation or other mindfulness practices are the means by which people begin to develop this understanding. As our self-delusions dissolve, we become more sensitive to the suffering of others. As we are more sensitive to the suffering of others, our self-delusions dissolve further.

Compassion for Yourself

After all this talk of selflessness, it may seem odd to end with compassion for oneself. But it's important not to run away from our own suffering.
Pema Chodron said, "In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves." She writes that in Tibetan Buddhism there is a practice called tonglen, which is a kind of meditation practice for helping us connect to our own suffering and the suffering of others.
"Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we being to take care of ourselves and others. It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being."
Again, we see the way compassion "introduces us to a far larger view of reality." This larger view is seen by the two eyes of wisdom and compassion.
Suggested Reading
·                        Buddhism and Morality - Introduction to the Buddhist View of Morality
·                        Avalokiteshvara -- Avalokiteshvara Is the Bodhisattva of Compassion
·                        The Metta Sutta -- Explanation of the Metta Sutta
Suggested Reading
·                        Buddhism and Vegetarianism: Not All Buddhists Are Vegetarian
·                        Attachment and Buddhism -- Buddhist Teachings on Attachment and Clinging
Suggested Reading
·                        Karuna - In Buddhism, Karuna is compassion or active sympathy
·                        Metta -- To Buddhists, Metta Is Loving Kindness or Compassion
·                        Brahma-vihara -- four divine states or four immeasurables of Buddhism
Related Articles
·                        The First Noble Truth of Buddhism
·                        What Is Buddhism? Video
·                        What do Buddhists believe - Beliefs of Buddhism
·                        Upaya - Upaya is a Buddhist term for skillful means
·                        Right View - Right View Is Part of the Eightfold Path o

Karen Armstrong, Charter for Compassion [DELETE DUPLICATIONS]
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The Charter has over 100 partners committed to the ideals of the Charter and who work around the world in the name of compassion. View all partners » ... - Cached - Similar
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The Charter for Compassion is the result of Karen Armstrong's 2008 TED Prize wish and made possible by the generous support of the Fetzer Institute. ... - Cached - Similar
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Sep 23, 2009 ... TED winner Karen Armstrong and the Dalai Lama will call on the world to begin the world-wide, grass-roots movement to restore compassion to ... - Cached - Similar
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Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, is a pianist, composer, educator, and recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award. A former Zen monk, his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley focused on educating intuition and altruism. He presents ongoing events promoting peace through compassion for all life. More...

For choice and care at the end of life:  the right of terminally ill US adults to choose a dignified, pain-free, humane death with help from their doctors.
Barbara Lee, President   P0 Box 101810
Denver, CO 80250-1810

·                                 WHO WE ARE
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The Blessing of a Good Death

Reverend Madison Shockley, of Carlsbad, CA recalls experiences that reconciled his theological beliefs with his views on dying. more
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Find out more about legislation, local chapters and how you can help in your state. more

My Loving Wife, Barbara

Joe Mancini’s touching essay tells the story of a woman dedicated to her family’s health and well-being and the most loving and diligent caretaker a father could hope for. more

“A Calling” to Help

Gretchen Deroche’s early work within the AIDS community led her to her calling as one of the founders of the end-of-life choice movement in Washing

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·                     CVT joins a coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations to send a letter to Senators urging them to support legislation that would end indefinite detention at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.
·                     CVT Director of the Washington Office Annie Sovcik says the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should make immigration detention reform a top priority based on CVT’s new report,Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention (pdf).
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samuel totten

Inline image 1Dedication
To Patrick Murinzi Minega and all other
children victimized by genocide, war, and violence.

Dear All,

Invariably, most serious scholars of genocide studies are ultimately asked: How can you do this work? What keeps you going in light of the darkness? The horror? 

Many have also asked me: what prompts you to go to such places as the Nuba Mountains when the area continues to be bombed on a daily basis or to such all but God forsaken places as Goz Beida, along the Chad/Darfur, Sudan border? 

My answer is staring at you in the face: the above photo of a little guy (Patrick) wish I could say I had met on one of the thousands of hills in Rwanda

It's also why I firmly believe that perhaps the most important aspect of my life as far as genocide studies is concerned, and as far as being a human being is concerned, is my co-founding The Post Genocide Education Fund with Rafiki Ubaldo, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. As many of you know, PGEF provides full scholarships and living expenses to young survivors of genocide across the globe who wish to earn a university diploma. (Thus far, we've sponsored students from Rwanda; Darfur, Sudan; and the Nuba Mountains, Sudan.) My point is: it is my one way to break out of the darkness and gain some sense that I am actually helping people in desperate need, instead of solely writing about the horrors faced by innocents either in the aftermath of genocide or during the actual perpetration of crimes against humanity/genocide. 

In closing, I wish to share an excerpt from the introduction of my new and forthcoming edited  book, The Plight and Fate of Children During and Following Genocide, in which I speak about gazing at Patrick's countenance for the first time: 

Samuel Totten

Generally, when I make my way through museums dealing with
genocide I fi nd myself feeling sad and angry but I forge on and make my
way through the exhibits. Th is, I have done, time and again, beginning
back in 1978 when I fi rst visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’
and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, the US Holocaust
Memorial Museum in 1993, and the tiny museum on the Armenian
genocide located in the basement of a church in Deir et Zor (Syria) in
2005. But then, in 2006, as I made my way through the museum at the
Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda, I entered the “Children’s
Wing,” and within ten minutes my heart was shattered. I had only managed
to view a tenth of the photographs and accompanying information
in the room, but I simply could not go on. I literally wanted to scream
and fl ay away at a world that would allow such horrifi c injustice and
atrocities to be perpetrated.

I shall never forget the last photo and captions that ripped my heart
apart. It was the sweetest picture of a young man, Patrick, seven years
of age, I’ve ever seen. His smile and bright sparkling eyes exuded joy.
Th en, I read the captions:
Name: Patrick Murinzi Minega
Favorite Sport: Swimming
Favorite Sweets: Chocolate
Favorite Person: His Mum
Personality: Gregarious
Cause of Death: Bludgeoned with Club

Over the years (during which I served as a Fulbright Scholar at the
Centre for Confl ict Management at the National University of Rwanda,
and on subsequent research trips when Rafi ki Ubaldo, a survivor of the
1994 genocide, and I conducted interviews for our book, We Cannot
Forget: Interviews with Survivors of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda ),
I returned to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre several times
in order to try to view all of the photographs and captions in the
“Children’s Wing.” Each and every time I’d only get so far before I was
overwhelmed with sorrow, and, yet again, would depart without having
viewed the entire exhibit. To this day I’ve not viewed the entire

Th e killing of infants, preschoolers, school-age children, and preadolescents
should be beyond the pale. Unfortunately, and sadly, it is
not—at least not for those who are apt to committing crimes against
humanity and genocide. And it’s not just killing that the latter engage
in, but also the torture and butchery of babies and young children.

When perpetrators kill infants and children there is often a sadistic
tone and tenor to their actions. Th ey seem to enjoy exhibiting their
perverted power over the victim population. Th ey seem to enjoy crushing
the spirits of those parents and siblings who are forced to watch
their children and babies and young brothers and sisters, respectively,
be brutalized in the most horrifi c ways possible. 


Am heading back to the Nuba Mountains right after the new year. Current reports are that Nuba civilians are desperately trying to make their way out of Sudan to South Sudan in search of food and many are literally dropping and dying each and every day. Last week a colleague I am working with to insert food into the region reported that he witnessed  -- IN A  SINGLE DAY   --  20 individuals (mainly elderly  men and woman and infants and young children) who had keeled over and perished along the way. That is obscene. Unconscionable. And it's way I've been haranguing Members of Congress, The White House and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others, to yank off their purposely placed blinders and OPEN THEIR EYES to the reality of the world we all live in and do something to try to ameliorate the horrors -- NOW, not next week, not next month, not next year. Each day that goes by another human being, like you and I, like your children and grandchildren, will perish in that desert wondering why no one but no one has reached out to them as those with the means would surely wish others would do for them should they find themselves in such dire straits. 

Sorry for the soapboxing. That was not my intent!  

Thank you for listening. Thank you for what you do to try to make the world a better place. 



MVFR News & Updates

Dear Friend,
As many of you know, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) is a passionate community led by family members of murder victims. Members of our community support one another by encouraging those affected by the loss of loved ones through violence to share their stories in hopes of educating the public to create social change.
Speaking out after such tremendous loss can be difficult and often painful. But many of us have learned that sharing our experiences can be healing and can serve as powerful and liberating instruments of change. Telling my story, and fighting for equality and justice, helps me cope and guides me forward.
My father, Johnnie Banks, Sr., was murdered during an attempted robbery just before Thanksgiving in 1986. I invite you to hear how, in memory of Dad, I came to be a member of MVFR in this three-part audio series. Below you will hear part one, during which I speak of life before my father was killed.
Your encouragement and support help strengthen my voice, as well as the thousands of family members of murder victims all across America.
I ask you to help spread the word about MVFR and the harm that violence causes to families and communities. Also, please consider making a gift to support MVFR as part of the national #GivingTuesday campaign. These funds will directly enable us to help more murder victims' family members tell their stories in the media and in our print and online publication series, Voices
Please stay tuned for the second installment of my three-part story next week. By listening, you give meaning to my words and help bring the strength of my story to life.
Rosemary Lytle
Colorado Springs
Board Chair Elect
P.S. On December 3rd pay special attention to our Facebook Page and Twitter feed. We will be thanking Members who have worked especially hard this year and encourage you to share your own posts of gratitude for our Members and their work. Please include the hashtag #GivingTuesday in your posts.
*This audio clip was recorded as part of MVFR’s collaboration with StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.
MVFR's members are persons whose loved ones have been taken by murder and who believe the death penalty is a response to murder that only creates more harm. MVFR members help their friends, co-workers, media and policymakers understand the negative impact that capital punishment has on the families of murder victims and the executed. MVFR is a non-partisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers public education and advocacy on the death penalty and the needs of murder victim family members.
More information about our work can be found at
or by contacting Marcelle Clowes at
877-896-4702 | 405 Morson St. Raleigh, North Carolina 27601


Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life
“The Problem of Ethics in the Evolution of Human Thought.”  Schweitzer delivered this short address in 1952.     It is included in Jacques Feschotte’s Albert Schweitzer, 1955.  I have been unable to find a copy online.
“Ethics is only complete when it exacts compassion towards every living thing.”  (Feschotte, 127).

Barry, Kathleen.  Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Our Soldiers, and Ourselves.   Phoenix Rising P, 2010.   An appeal for the “re-humanization: of soldiers from destructive masculinities and fighting machines into compassionate human beings.   A call for a radical social, moral, political paradigm shift to instill empathy in men.   UNMAKING WAR, REMAKING MEN: How empathy can reshape our politics, our soldiers and ourselves.  Dr. Barry focuses on the masculinity of war and the social expectations placed on boys.  Introducing new concepts such as core masculinity and expendable lives, this book exposes how masculinity and the military prepare men for killing and introduces new approaches to world peace and a new masculinity that is already in the making.  We can change socialization within our society to reduce the aggression and violence which war demands!


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