colin's blog

Posted Thu 12 April 2018

Moral imagination

When I first read Cultivating Empathy by Nathan Walker, it was just a book I picked up at General Assembly because I enjoyed his talk so much. I had no idea what a power idea the moral imagination is, and that it would come up over and over again in all sorts of other contexts.

Most recently, I was reading a history book about Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. Far more than just a religious separtist, Williams believed that human governance had no place in his religion. In order to achieve this goal, government had to be excised from religion, for religion's sake.

Apart from that radical though, Williams also believed that a community worked best when people are able to not simply stand up for what they want at any given time, but also for what the are able to imagine is best for their neighbors. His belief in government derived from the power of the governed required that did not hinge on everyone being perfectly free. He was no anarchist.

Indeed, I think there are many people these days who believe that American democracy means you are as good as I but rather I am as good as you. There's an inherent selfishness that pervades our basic idea of our governance, when our day to day experience is all about taking care of each other.

I don't believe many people would truly embrace anarchism, if they knew what it entailed. We all have dark night's of the soul, when community is required. And anywhere there is community, there must be moral imagination, the ability to project ourselves into a difficult situation and see and hear where all parties are coming from. There is no me and you in a sacred community, only US.

Category: Thoughts
Tags: morality living self-help