Irrationally Compassionate – 7 Takeaways for August 1, 2021


1. “The thing we often forget is that humans value freedom over truth.”

When 1 + 1 = 3 – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That, blog)

This is another in a series of items I’ve encountered in recent weeks trying to make sense of the incredible divisions in the world today. I think I’ve mentioned before the concept that community trumps the truth. Yeo adds yet another item that resonates, particularly here in the United States: for many freedom is more important than the truth.

But keep in mind that the disbelief you may feel about the other tribe’s position is exactly the same way they feel about yours.

Note the concept of tribalism. We are nothing if not tribal.

The question is what to do about it.

In this scenario, the only way to make 1 + 1 = 2 a compelling idea is not to provide a mathematical proof, but to be irrationally compassionate. Perhaps even foolishly so. By being the kind of person the other might want to be. By listening when you don’t want to. By attempting to understand when you’d rather not.

It’s not easy. Not at all.

Do this: Be kind. Even to “them”.

2. “Go hungry”

The Single Most Important Thing for Losing Weight – Malky McEwan –  (Medium)

I needed this reminder.

As I struggle (and it is a struggle) with trying to re-lose some of my COVID-period weight gain, being comfortable with hunger is one of the more difficult habits to re-acquire. Do it long enough and the body will adjust — once it realizes it’s not in starvation mode.

And, to be clear:

At the most basic level ‘go hungry’ is rudimentary advice. It doesn’t cover issues with eating disorders or nutrition, I understand that.

The point of this article wasn’t to give a speel about avoiding fatty, sugary, and ultra-processed food — although you should definitely avoid ultra-processed foods — it was to highlight what I believe is missing from most advice about losing weight.

Do this: obviously, it has to make sense for you and your health, so don’t blindly accept advice from some random guy on the internet. But. If you’re trying to lose a few. If “COVID-19” is the increase you see on the scale. Consider whether going hungry might be right for you.

3. “Notebooks are good. . .”

On Keeping a Notebook – Carley Moore – (Medium)

Journalling. Freewriting. Note-taking. I suck at all of them. And yet, they’re all things that I would like to do more of and do better. It’s complicated by my horrid penmanship, and that I type WAY WAY WAY better than I write. So I end up with mostly digital solutions that are all just inconvenient enough to remain just out of reach unless I put my mind to it.

I need to put my mind to it.

The article has a good list of things to put into a notebook.

Now I just gotta remember. (PS/Spoiler: 7takeaways is a form of notebook for me, in case you haven’t already guessed. It’s a wonderful database of things that have struck me over time.)

Do this: keep track. Of your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences. I don’t care how — that’s up to you. Someday you’ll be grateful.

4. “Everything that has a beginning must have an end.”

God, Death, and Francis Crick – Christof Koch – (Essay in The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown – ebook)

The essay is about Koch’s struggle with the concept of death, and how becoming friends with Francis Crick (who with J.D.Watson proposed the double-helix structure for DNA) would impact that as Crick dealt with his own diagnosis of colon cancer that would lead to his death. The quote is Crick’s.

It resonates primarily because it’s one of the fundamental concepts in Buddhism as well as Stoicism. While I don’t profess to be Buddhist, per se, there are several such concepts that resonate with me, this being one. It’s about much, much more than just individuals dying.

Do this: Simply realize that the quote, while perhaps pithy, is very, very true.

5. “We have really struggled with health literacy”

America’s vaccination woes cannot be blamed only on politics – The Economist – (Magazine)

Regardless of how we exit the pandemic (yep, that’s an assumption, though I’m certain we will, I’m just not certain of how many of us, and when), the experience needs to be examined for lessons to be learned. It’s shown us just how dreadful our health education is. While we can’t completely blame politics — people should know or have been taught better, after all — politics is applying a layer of virtual cement to people’s ways of thinking that will make this a lengthy process to recover from.

Even after the pandemic is over.

Do this: listen to health officials, scientists, and people who study and understand this stuff. Please.

6. “millions of people could lose their shelter”

Millions of Tenants Could Lose Homes as Eviction Moratorium Expires – Daniel Politi – (Slate)

I’ve noted this before. The eviction moratorium scares me. The moratorium is scheduled to expire the day this is sent.

We’ve taken some action to try to help some small amount locally, but it has the potential to be a huge problem. And that’s on top of a pre-existing homelessness crisis.

Unfortunately, the moratorium doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, it just shifts the burden. And while many landlords are huge corporations with deep pockets, not all are. Some, for example, are couples in retirement relying on the now non-existent rental income to make ends meet. Not surprisingly, nothing about this is simple.

Do this: help your community, however you can. People will be affected everywhere.

7. “when the right ones find you . . . give them directions”

Never Fear Being an Elder – Brenda Cyr – (Medium)

It’s interesting. A sub-topic kept cropping up in this week’s reading, and that’s the dangers of choosing the comfortable path. Cyr touches on this briefly in a larger context of responding to life’s challenges and then turning the lessons learned into wisdom for others. Honestly, it’s something I aspire to.

It also came up in an audiobook I listened to — Embracing the Unknown: Life Lessons from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a recording of a three-day retreat with Pema Chödrön — but in this case more directly related to choices made after you die. (I know, I know. But even without necessarily believing the literal, the metaphors can still often strike a chord.)

Do this: Figure out how to share your wisdom, and with whom. (Remember, though, it’s not something that can be force fed. Smile)

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


1 thought on “Irrationally Compassionate – 7 Takeaways for August 1, 2021”

  1. Thanks for the Commentary & thoughts, Leo. Always good to know what other life-experienced people are thinking… This longtime fan of yours appreciates your time.


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