Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have compiled the first-ever review of the neurobiology of wisdom - once the sole province of religion and philosophy. Terra Daily, 4-8-09
And [Lech Walesa’s] message for the Burmese people was: don’t be downhearted, but be creative in challenging the regime. He told the Burmese people to be prepared. All authoritarian regimes fall unexpectedly, he said. Irrawaddy, 4-9-09
A court in Tibet has sentenced two people to death over riots in Lhasa last year, China's state media said … in what was the harshest sentence yet reported over the deadly unrest.. Agence France Press, 4-9-09
Prendergast argues that post-Rwandan activism is already having an effect in war zones such as Darfur. … Sudanese actions in Darfur have killed "only" 300,000, thus far. "Hundreds of thousands of Darfurians are very likely alive today because of the strength of the antigenocide activist movement," argues Prendergast. Christian Science Monitor, 4-7-09
Scientists Make Breakthrough in Search for the Source of Wisdom; Meanwhile, in Burma, Tibet & Darfur, Brute Force & Blind Greed Still Rule
By Richard Power
Researchers at the University of California’s School of Medicine in San Diego have been exploring the brain, seeking the source of wisdom, and there are promising results:
They found, for example, that pondering a situation calling for altruism activates the medial pre-frontal cortex, while moral decision-making is a combination of rational (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in sustaining attention and working memory), emotional/social (medial pre-frontal cortex), and conflict detection (the anterior cingulate cortex, sometimes also associated with a so-called "sixth sense") functions. Interestingly, several common brain regions appear to be involved in different components of wisdom. The UC San Diego researchers suggest that the neurobiology of wisdom may involve an optimal balance between more primitive brain regions (the limbic system) and the newest ones (pre-frontal cortex.) Knowledge of the underlying mechanisms in the brain could potentially lead to developing interventions for enhancing wisdom. Terra Daily, 4-8-09
My initial response in reading of this research was to exhort them to please hurry.
The news from Burma, Tibet and Darfur is grim and will likely get grimmer.
But then I realized that there are governments, business interests and even religious hierarchies in this world that would be more interested in removing the source of wisdom than “developing interventions for enhancing it.”
Here are three important stories about the great deeds of a few people who have found their own way to some degree of that “optimal balance between the more primitive regions of the brains and the newest ones,” and the great misdeeds of others who have lost their way in whatever regions of the mind activate the impulses to cruelty and greed:
He was one of 112 former presidents and prime ministers—including former US presidents George H W Bush and Jimmy Carter, former British prime ministers Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and John Major, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi—who recently urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to return to Burma and pressure the military junta to free all political prisoners. ... Walesa was convinced that there must be a way out to resist the regime in Burma, if not in the streets. He also said that people should have the courage to say: “No.” ... His message was: if you cannot lead the people onto the streets, a different strategy to counter the regime has to be found. And his message for the Burmese people was: don’t be downhearted, but be creative in challenging the regime.
He told the Burmese people to be prepared. All authoritarian regimes fall unexpectedly, he said. Irrawaddy, 4-9-09
A court in Tibet has sentenced two people to death over riots in Lhasa last year, China's state media said on Wednesday in what was the harshest sentence yet reported over the deadly unrest.
Two others were given suspended death sentences while another was given life in prison in three separate cases, said the report, which quoted a spokesman for the intermediate court in the Tibetan capital.
Fierce anti-China riots broke out in Lhasa in March last year and spread across Tibet and adjacent areas with Tibetan populations, deeply embarrassing the Chinese government as it was preparing to host the Beijing Summer Olympics.
China blamed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting the violence and responded with a massive security crackdown on the region that has remained in place ever since. Agence France Press, 4-9-09
Prendergast argues that post-Rwandan activism is already having an effect in war zones such as Darfur. Whereas the Sudanese regime once denied humanitarian access to civilians in its conflict with Southern Sudanese separatists – killing up to 2 million – Sudanese actions in Darfur have killed "only" 300,000, thus far. "Hundreds of thousands of Darfurians are very likely alive today because of the strength of the antigenocide activist movement," argues Prendergast.
Yet even proponents of international justice say that progress is slow. ICC prosecutors, say some, have been too eager to apply the legal term "genocide" to the conflict in Darfur, and powerful nations have been reluctant to follow through on their own commitments to respond. And while the world sends ever-larger peacekeeping missions to places such as Darfur and Congo (a nation with no effective government), the peacekeepers themselves are poorly equipped and often told by their own governments to keep their heads down and come home alive. Christian Science Monitor, 4-7-09
For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.
For a Words of Power Archive of Human Rights Updates, click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
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