Conscience and Courage, and Causality

In Conscience and Courage, Eva Fogelman writes "It was not a whim that lead these people to risk their lives and those of their families, but a response, almost a reflexive action in some cases, that came from core values developed and instilled in them in childhood." (1)

Holocaust rescuers were raised in families that provided a nurturing environment. The children developed a sense of self-worth and the ability to care for others. The care the rescuers received became part of their character, an integral part of the way they functioned in society.

When we know how to look, we will see continuous causality functioning all around us. A cause has a result, which in turn becomes another cause with another result, anther cause, another result, and on and on it goes. In this case, children  had the causes and conditions to be born into a loving, nurturing family. This care resulted in their becoming people who risked their lives to do what they knew was right.

Good values result in virtuous actions. Causality at it's finest.  

(1) Conscience and Courage, Eva Fogelman, Anchor, p. 253


Positive Influence

Example is not the main thing

in influencing others.

It is the only thing.

~ Albert Schweitzer ~ 


Conscience and Courage


I am often asked for advice on how to raise children. While in New York recently, I read Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust by Eva Fogelman. The book has dozens of accounts of gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi regime.

Fogelman explores the reasons people were able to act in such extraordinary ways. She discovered that most of them shared five similar humanistic values.

There was “a nurturing, loving home; an altruistic parent or beloved caretaker who served as a role model for altruistic behavior; a tolerance for people who were different; a childhood illness or personal loss that tested their resilience and exposed them to special care; and an upbringing that emphasized independence, discipline with explanations (rather than physical punishment or withdrawal of love), and caring.” (1)

A caring, nurturing family, altruistic role models, tolerance for those who are different, and an upbringing that stresses independence as well as discipline coupled with explanations, are excellent bases that families can use today. Such values can help parents to raise children who will have the courage to do what is right in life.  

Hopefully, none of us will face the horrific circumstances those at the time of the Nazi regime had to. But children and teenagers will face peer pressure, and adults will come up against workplace ethical issues. Whether at school, work, or in social interactions; altruism, tolerance, and unconditional care will help our children to make the right decisions.

(1) Conscience and Courage, Eva Fogelman, Anchor, p. 254



Nonviolence in Daily Life

956849-786773-thumbnail.jpgNonviolence belongs to a continuum from the personal to the global, and from the global to the personal. One of the most significant Buddhist interpretations of nonviolence concerns the application of this ideal to daily life. Nonviolence is not some exalted regimen that can be practiced only by a monk or a master; it also pertains to the way one interacts with a child, vacuums a carpet, or waits in line. Besides the more obvious forms of violence, whenever we separate ourselves from a given situation (for example, through inattentiveness, negative judgments, or impatience), we kill something valuable. However subtle it may be, such violence actually leaves victims in its wake: people, things, one's own composure, the moment itself. According to the Buddhist reckoning, these small-scale incidences of violence accumulate relentlessly, are multiplied on a social level, and become a source of the large-scale violence that can sweep down upon us so suddenly. One need not wait until war is declared and bullets are flying to work for peace, Buddhism teaches. A more constant and equally urgent battle must be waged each day against the forces of one's own anger, carelessness and self-absorption.

~ Kenneth Kraft, Inner Peace, World Peace


Choose Wisely

Our words should be chosen carefully

for people will hear them and

be influenced by them

for good or

for ill.