hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, August 07, 2009
thoughts on the Pittsburgh gym murders of Heidi Overmier, Jody Billingsley and Elizabeth Gannon.

1. Some people can seem born to sweet delight, others to endless night, and it can often be quite sad and pitiable.

2. What is the appropriate emotional response when someone who lives in endless night, either because of objective circumstances, or because they live in a self-imposed prison they refuse to leave, lashes out and tries to take other people down with him/her?

Not sure, but Dorothy Sayers' thoughts on envy seem worth considering:

"Hand in hand with covetousness goes its close companion -- invidia or envy -- which hates to see other men happy. . .It begins by asking, plausibly, "Why should not I enjoy what others enjoy?" and it ends by demanding, "Why should others enjoy what I may not?". . .[envy] is a destroyer; rather than have anybody happier than itself, it will see us all miserable together.

In love, envy is cruel, jealous and possessive. My friend and my marriage partner must be wholly wrapped up in me and must find no interests outside me. That is my right. No person, no work, no hobby must robe me of any part of that right. If we cannot be happy together, we will be unhappy together, but there must be no escape into pleasures that I cannot share. If my husband's work means more to him than I do, I will see him ruined rather than preoccupied; if my wife is so abandoned as to enjoy Beethoven or dancing or anything else that I do not appreciate, I will so nag and insult her that she will no longer be able to indulge those tastes with a mind at ease. If my neighbors are able to take pleasure in intellectual interests that are above my head I will sneer at them and call them by derisive names because they make me feel inferior, and that is a thing I cannot bear. . .Let justice be done to me, though the heavens fall and the earth be shot to pieces.

If avarice is the sin of the haves against the have-nots, envy is the sin of the have-nots against the haves. If we want to see what they look like on a big scale, we may say that avarice has been the sin of the Anglo-Saxon democracies, and envy the sin of Germany. Both are cruel -- the one with a heavy, complacent, and bloodless cruelty; the other with a violent, calculated, and savage cruelty. But Germany only displays in accentuated form an evil of which we have plenty at home.

The difficulty about dealing with envy is precisely that it is the sin of the have-nots, and that, on that account, it can always find support among those who are just and generous minded. . .

. . .The sixth deadly sin is named by the Church acedia or sloth. In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. . .

. . .sloth is in a conspiracy with envy to prevent people from thinking. Sloth persuades us that stupidity is not our sin, but our misfortune; while envy, at the same time, persuades us that intelligence is despicable. . ."


also a passage from CS Lewis (The Magician's Nephew):

"That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after. . .If any Narnian, unbidden, had stolen an apple and planted it here to protect Narnia, it would have protected Narnia. But it would have done so by making Narnia into another strong and cruel empire like Charn, and not the kindly land I mean it to be."

Also two pieces from Swami Dayananda:

Good and Evil


The Need For a Cognitive Change