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IconNewsflash from the University of Colorado, Boulder: scientist believes that animals can have a sense of morality that shows them the difference between right and wrong. Professor emeritus Marc Bekoff explains in his new book that morals are "hardwired" in a mammal's brain and has gathered - he says - evidence showing how various species appear to have a sense of fairness, will help other animals in need, and can even show empathy.First of all, the very word "hardwired" indicates a lack of choice.' There is no knowing or choosing between right and wrong without a clear conception of the notion of consideration of options.' Animals other than humans are, indeed, "hardwired" - that is, they act by instinct.' Secondly, using anthropomorphic terminology is misleading.' I remember being on a morning television show eons ago, when some feminist was pointing out that rape was ubiquitous, and then showing a clip of alligators mating.' Trust me...that wasn't a pretty or comfortable sight...but it wasn't rape.' Alligator males have to overcome resistance so that the best sperm wins.' That's the female alligator's world of making a choice with whom to hook up - as violent as it appears to humans.A hungry lion coming into a room with ten frightened human beings is not going to starve to death because it isn't "nice" to kill innocent humans.' He's going to eat the first guy or gal he clamps his jaws on.' That's not an immoral act.' Morality requires a choice.' The lion is "hardwired" to eat meat.' That's it.Here's an example from Dr. Bekoff's book that I believe is way off base: "Vampire bats need to drink blood every night, but it is common for some not to find any food.' Those who are successful in foraging for blood will share their meal with bats who have shared with them." He considers this a reciprocity which indicates the acting out of moral precepts.' I think that conclusion is just silly.' Bats are gregarious and need to be in "packs" for safety and comfort.' Therefore, they are wired to keep each other alive.' You'll see competition when they're mating.Ants will pile up over waterways to allow other ants to pass.' This is not self-sacrifice after kissing your family goodbye - this is instinct built into the tiny brain of an ant, over which he has no control.And that's the point.' Morality is an issue of making a choice between personal gain and the welfare of another which may even take away from the self.' Risking one's life to pull a child out of a river in which you might very well die is not an instinct.' Most people would never set a toe in the water.' That's their choice.' However, some souls will put their lives on the line, because their compassion overwhelms their sense of personal survival.That's what makes some human beings magnificent.' The stories of people standing by and not helping others in other in need are legion, and include individuals, groups, and even whole countries.' This sort of analysis about animals is emotional , not scientific, in my opinion.' And it seems important fodder for PETA-types to argue their points.The good and bad point of the human brain is obvious:' we can figure out how to walk on the moon and discover penicillin.' We can also think of ways to fly airplanes into buildings to kill as many innocent people as possible for the sake of our "god."' CHOICE is wonderful in concept, but either beautiful OR deadly in actuality. More >>

Tags: MoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
IconResearchers at the University of British Columbia studied people who had undergone genetic testing to determine their risk for developing the neurodegenerative terminal disorder known as Huntington's disease.' Did you know (and can you believe) that those subjects who learned that they had a very high likelihood of developing this horrendous and ultimately fatal disease were "happier a year after testing than those who did not learn what their risk was."Many of you probably think that not knowing would result in more happiness, but you'd be wrong.' According to Dr. Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, "...when we get bad news, we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it.' We change our behavior; we change our attitudes.' We raise our consciousness and lower our standards.' We find our bootstraps and tug.' But we can't come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don't yet know." Even those of you who listen to my program regularly may be shocked when I tell somebody their mother or father or spouse or even their child is a bum.' You may wince when I have them scream out how righteously angry they are at parents who didn't protect them.'' You may also sometimes recoil from your radio when you hear me push and push and push a caller until they reveal their innermost horrible truth.' Perhaps you've seen me as cruel...or hawking for ratings stemming from the drama.The fact is, that as a professional psychotherapist I have long realized the value of dealing with the truth - as ugly as it might be.' I've seen and heard people fighting to keep ugly truths submerged as though it protected them.' In fact, the energy that goes into burying reality is huge, and not available for healthy living.Not everyone who calls is willing or ready for this evolutionary leap in their lives.' Sometimes, they have to think about it more and come back later.' That's fine.' The seed is planted.' I don't see my job as making every caller feel happy at the end of our brief conversation.' I see my job as one of freeing them from their own personal jail of denial and avoidance, all of which lead to depression, anxiety, and poor ( very poor) choices in life.Knowing is always better than not knowing.' Several recent callers have demanded that I give them some magic to get their loved one to stop smoking or stop being obese.' I tell them to give up that ongoing, unpleasant battle, and simply enjoy the time they do have with that person.' Accepting what is out of your control opens you up to more happiness, because you are left with dealing with "what is," instead of fighting to have it be something else.'You can wrap your arms and joys around what is .' You can't do the same thing with what you wish was the truth. More >>

Tags: AbortionMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
IconI have often told callers struggling with their fears (real or imagined or exaggerated) that next to character, I admire guts.' Actually, having the fortitude to face the things we're afraid of is a measure of character.A few weeks ago, I was out for only the third time on my new paddleboard.' I was balancing well, in spite of passing motorboats leaving scary wakes in my path.' I was in choppy waters, which was not that smart at my level of experience, and feeling great about what I was doing, when-BAM-I hit the board full flat and hard on my left side and slid underwater.' I was stunned, cold, and worried about becoming a shark snack.' I swam quickly back to the board, pulled myself up, and lay there shaking with cold, shock, and fear. I pulled my knees under me, then got my feet down as I poised in a crouched position, and then stood straight up and paddled nervously for another fifteen minutes.' The point of these actions was that I knew that if I just swam ashore, I might never get on the board again.' My left ribs hurt tremendously, and I'm still healing.' But for me, the main point was getting back up then and there, and scowling directly into the face of fear.This is a small step for a girl like me.' A much bigger step for a little girl is the story of Bethany Hamilton.' She nearly lost her life in a vicious shark attack while surfing off the coast of Hawaii almost six years ago.' The shark attack happened while she was lying on her board with her arm dangling comfortably in the water.' The shark ripped her left arm off just below the shoulder, and she almost died from blood loss - the shark left a sixteen inch "bite" on her surfboard.' Grisly, to say the least.' By the way, they caught the shark.' It was a 14-foot-long tiger shark, which weighed 1400 pounds.What was Ms. Hamilton doing just a month after that shark took her left arm?' Re-training herself to surf competitively with only one arm.' Her positive attitude won her a 2004 EXPY award from ESPN for "Best Comeback Athlete of the Year."' She's now ranked among the top ten professional women surfers in the world.' With one arm.Does this mean she has no fears?' No. "When I'm feeling scared, I just sing a song or pray...or I just try to ignore it.' It's always in my mind, and it always will be, but I've got to keep my mind on having fun and just surfing." She says she sees two or three sharks per year in the water and heads in if she gets scared or thinks she sees a shark.' She doesn't go in the murky water after a storm.' In other words, she uses the common sense that all surfers should employ.She travels the world for surfing competitions, and for causes in which she can help children with fears - like going to Thailand to help young children devastated by the tsunami disaster.' With her unique experience, she has something very important to say about overcoming fears, much less overcoming fear of water.I've always said that one of the best learning tools in the universe is to read to yourself and your family biographies of people who have fought inner and outer demons and prevailed.' This is one of those stories.And you don't have to be afraid of the ocean to benefit.' Life has its disappointments, assaults, devastation, frustrations, challenges, and bad luck.' That's just life.' What you do after that point is the measure of your life. More >>

Tags: CharacterCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCourageFearMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
Tags: MarriageSexSexualitySocial IssuesValues
IconPolice authorities are on a nation-wide search for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy's life.' The two left their Minnesota home after a doctor's appointment and X-ray showed his tumor had grown.' A court has issued an arrest warrant (ruling the mother in contempt of court), and has ordered that the boy be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated for treatment by a cancer specialist .'His parents insist on alternative medicines, citing religious beliefs.' That led authorities to seek custody, as the court ruled that the boy's parents were medically neglecting their son, as his form of cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation.The parents believe in the philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and such.' However, lately the dad has jumped ideological ships and is now agreeing that his son needs the best treatment with a doctor of medicine.All over the blogosphere, you can read arguments as to whether or not the court should be able to countermand the parents.' My opinion?' Absolutely yes...when it is clear that the child is in imminent harm and there are the means to rescue him.This child is in imminent harm because of his parents and the cancer itself.' Since the cancer is likely curable, it is unconscionable for his life to be taken by parents who choose some extreme religious views which put their child on the road to death.' Secondly, the child, 13, cannot read due to some learning disability.' I question whether or not the parents helped him with that problem either.' Since the boy cannot read, he is relying on the "wisdom" of his parents, who are not giving him the truth, which is "chemo will save you and herbs will let you die in pain."Personally, I am very respectful of most (not all) religious views.' I am completely dis respectful of religious views which result in taking the life of an innocent - in this case, robbing the life of an innocent child. More >>

Tags: AbuseChild NeglectChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthParentingReligionValues
Tags: AbstinenceFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - TeensParentingTeensValues
IconThis Saturday is Armed Forces Day, and this month is Military Appreciation Month .' When I got this email, I knew this was the week to share it with all of you: Dr. Laura:My 15 year old son belongs to the Civil Air Patrol, which is an offshoot of the Air Force.' We had been talking recently about what it means for him to be in the military, the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly that goes with it.' I just received this email from one of our deployed members that sums up what it means to be a warrior, and thought I would share it with you. From one warrior-raising mom to another,Judi And here's the email she got: A few of you have expressed your thanks and feelings regarding my deployment.' Of course, it's been a resounding "don't go!"' But I would like you to take the time and ask:' what would happen if I didn't go? The simple answer is that someone else would go in my place.' This isn't an acceptable alternative for me.' How could I expect someone else to go in harm's way in my place? Another answer, one I believe more important, is this:' who would protect my fellow brothers and sisters in arms while they do their jobs?' Six years ago, I put up my right hand and swore an oath to defend my country.' And that country includes every airman, sailor, soldier and Marine.' The job that Oscar [his bomb-sniffing dog] and I have is just that:' protecting my brothers and sisters so they might return safely. When I returned from my last deployment a year ago, I had the honor of flying with an Angel Flight.' For those of you who don't know, an Angel Flight is the designation for an aircraft carrying our fallen service members.' It was unfortunate for them to return in such a state.' And I knew, in the back of my mind, that if more people like me (and Oscar) were there, that just maybe, these service members would not have to return like this. The oath that I took is different from the oath you take as a CAP cadet, in that many others stake their lives in the trust that I will keep my promise.' Sticking to that promise is important to me.' But sticking to your promise is just as important.' It shows how you, as an individual, value your own promise to yourself, your community, state and nation. I know what my oath means:' that I am prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if need be to protect my fellow service members and Americans.' I'd like you to take the time to reflect on YOUR promise.' What does your promise mean to YOU?' Can YOU count on your own promise?' Can OTHERS count on it? Thank you everyone for the gifts, support, and thanks you have given me.' Once I arrive in Iraq and get my mailing address, I'll forward it on.' Remember, the best gift is "Chocolate Monkey" or "Swiss" trail mix from Archer Farms, available at Target. Take care, and stay safe.' I'll see you at the end of my deployment.' I expect to see all of you promoted to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant by my return.' Martinez, give me five push-ups. Phillip K.SSgt, USAF More >>

Tags: MilitarySocial IssuesValuesWar
IconThis is a two-parter from one of my listeners.' She originally wrote me the following email: Dear Dr. Laura: "...I am to give a presentation on ...Feminist Theory for my Social Theory class.' Let me tell you, I am so excited to present this, because I am far from a feminist.' I can't wait to share my thoughts with my class..[and] provide details of what women today are missing because of this movement. "...Thanks to you, I will be no one's shack-up honey.' I will not have children until I am married.' I will not marry the wrong man...I will be my kid's mom and my husband's girlfriend...." Thanks to you, here is a 25 year old woman who loves and respects herself. Well, she did the research in preparation for the presentation, and here's what she wrote as a followup: "[In doing my research,] I... never read the word 'oppressed' so many times in my life.' My goodness, how can women complain so much? ...I have never gotten mad when working on a project for school.' I have always found things that I have learned along the way interesting and useful.' Well, this time, I got mad.' My professor knew I was anti-feminism, so she must have thought [doing the research] would open my eyes to her world....She was incorrect.' I started getting angry at these feminists.' Finally, the day before my presentation...I had had it!' I could hardly stand these women. I believe I read that women wanted to be accepted and respected, ...[but] all it seemed like they wanted to do was emasculate men, demoralize tradition, and degrade anyone or anything that stood in their way of what they thought was power....I think a lot of feminists have taken this movement a bit too far.' I truly believe feminists must be the most miserable people.' They miss out on so much.' My mother is a feminist, and she has never been happy.' Thanks to you, Dr. Laura, I did not follow in her footsteps. You were right when you told me the angrier the professor gets, the more "right on" I am.' She didn't care what [analysis] I provided.' I appreciate that women have rights, but I resent that my rights of becoming a stay-at-home mom day are not honored as well....My professor thought she was tricking me into finding things [in my research] that maybe I would think I can't live without.' All she did, though, was teach me how to be a better woman and how not to treat a man. More >>

Tags: AbortionSocial IssuesValues
Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenMilitaryMother's DayMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingValues
IconThe coordinator behind a children's coloring book that was pulled from FEMA's website recently is standing by her work, despite its controversial cover (which shows a child's drawing of the New York's "Twin Towers" on fire, with a plane flying toward them), according to Fox News.Ostensibly, this downloadable coloring book was created to help children cope with disaster, and was developed by Minnesota's Freeborn County Crisis Response Team after a tornado hit their area. "I stand firm that it was a very well thought out and useful resource for kids," Rose Olmstead told Fox News.' I think she is sadly mistaken.' I read the entire coloring book, and these are my observations and opinions:1. The title of the coloring book is "A Scary Thing Happened," a children's coloring book to help cope with disasters.' I would not have shown this to my child.' The cover has the World Trade Center towers burning, with a plane coming in for the second kill, a house with the roof blowing away due to a tornado, and a car that is smashed from the top - this doesn't resemble a car accident, so I don't know if a tornado was supposed to have hauled it up and then dropped it on its top before righting it, or what.' Can't figure that one out.'Here's where I take issue:' a tornado is an act of nature.' The tower disaster was an act of evil people determined to murder all those who didn't share their religion.' It's wrong to put these two together, because the explanations for these events are worlds apart, and people cope differently when other humans perpetrate heinous acts on purpose, than when nature does what nature does, or when accidents happen.' Coping with these two category types is psychologically different.' As you might guess, murder and mayhem perpetrated by man is much harder to deal with, because it becomes more personal.2. After highlighting terrorism on the cover, the book starts out showing excessive rain causing a flood, a tornado and a house fire - typical disasters for a community.' The text then says, "You may wonder why anybody would do this or why it happened to you." Well, are we blaming God for rain and high winds?' Who else could do this?' This is neither discussed nor explained. "...why it happened to you" is definitely a good question to ask, because that is what most people of any age would ask.' On the next page, the question is not answered.' The page just shows a child among three different images of terrorist-hijacked planes and World Trade Center towers.' This actually made me angry, because it was a pointless segue from the previous page.3. The next section is pretty good.' It talks about sadness, but then it throws in "You might think you made the disaster happen, but you didn't." What kid thinks a tornado or flood is their fault?' This book is just all mixed up with concepts, and ultimately, I don't believe it is helpful to children at all.4. One of the worst parts of the book is a section that mentions "In the disaster, there was no warning and no time to get ready." Well, people in flood, earthquake and tornado areas have family and community plans in place, and generally instruct their children on what to do.' The same goes for house fires.' This book leads children to believe that they have absolutely no power, because it does not inform them that there is such a thing as preparedness.' Coloring after the fact is cute, but preparedness before the fact helps children to anticipate and feel a sense of power vs. a feeling of helplessness.5.' Since this book doesn't really settle on one concept, it does not effectively deal with any, which is a shame, because the last part talks about discussing your feelings, doing good deeds, and taking care of yourself as a way to cope.'I stand with the people who wanted this book pulled because of the cover with the burning towers, but I stand with them more because of the quality of the effort than just because of a controversial cover.Disasters have different origins:' those that are natural are dealt with one way, while those that are perpetrated by humans are handled another way.' If FEMA wanted to do a book about how to deal with the fear that there are millions of people who want us dead because of their blind bigotry, hate, and misguided sense of spirituality, well, that's a very different book from this one. More >>

Tags: attitudeFamily/Relationships - ChildrenParentingPoliticsSocial IssuesValues
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