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In my view, the great majority of members here at Daily Kos are here because we care about our fellow human beings and the planet that sustains us.  This caring for others is why we take the positions that we do; it is why we work for fair wages and benefits for workers in other states, it is why we work for health care for children whom we will never meet, it is why we work for peace in a land we will never visit.  We do not come here hoping to pass legislation that will be of benefit to "me" at the expense of others; we do not come here for instance to pass legislation to end taxation of interest income to increase "my" portfolio at the expense of weakening the federal government's ability to provide services for the poor.  That's not us.  We're here working for the poor.  We care about our fellow human beings.  We work for social and environmental justice.  That's why we are here.

So, as progressives, we care about our fellow human beings; and this caring, this compassion, is at the core of each of us.  And this compassionate core is our common humanity; it is what connects all of us to each other; it is why we work to help others; we see within each other ourselves, our common humanity.

Working for social justice is about building community; it is about educating others that all are worthy of respect, that all have the same rights.  Social justice means that one group in a society should not discriminate against another; that all in the society should be allowed the same opportunities and should enjoy the same rights.

And building community is about education; it is about communication; it is about uncovering old habits, old beliefs, old prejudices, old animosities; it is about shining the light of truth of our common humanness; it is about helping others to find that common core of humanness within themselves.

And communication, with those with whom we share a common humanity, begins with compassion.  Even those whose words and actions we find so destructive have at their core this common humanity; and though they have covered this core with layers of deceit, devising for themselves false personas to hide from themselves the hurt of past events and the fear of the other, they are, at their core, human beings, searching for what they know not; they are worthy of our compassion.

If we are progressives, if we are to work for social and environmental justice, if we are here to build communities and to facilitate communication, then that work starts here with our own community and with our fellow members of this community.  Working for social justice, working for laws that will treat all humanity respectfully, begins with treating each other here in our community with that same respect.  It begins when we read what someone else as written as a diary or comment.  It begins with what happens within us when those words are read.

We react to what we read.  Each of us has stories that we carry around with us that have been built up over time about all kinds of issues; and we react to what we read based on these stories.  And each of us has defenses that we raise based on mechanisms that we have developed throughout life to get us through difficult situations, whether these situations were with our parents when we were young or with our fellow classmates in school or with abusive employers, etc.  We react.

When we read a comment and feel that reactive pattern arising, we can pause, and breathe.  We may have reason to take exception to what we've read, but we can pause, and breathe, and get in touch with our core, our common humanity, our compassion, and we can respond respectfully, civilly.  We can take the time to choose our words carefully.  We can take the time to consider that we know little about what this other person's life is like, where this other person is in the flow of events, the life story that brought this person to where they are at the moment of writing their words.  We can have compassion for a life of suffering that we know little about because we too are human, we too have suffered, we too have been down that long road of life events, we too are worthy of being treated respectfully.

We are progressives, and we come here to this community, because we care about our fellow human beings.  And as progressives, as caring human beings, we can learn to communicate with each other civilly, respectfully, and compassionately.  Because through compassionate communication, peace is won; and perhaps what we hope for most is a peaceful world for our children and future generations.

That peaceful world, that peace in Israel/Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, in Tibet, begins here.  It begins with our communication with each other.  It begins with treating each other with respect and compassion.

We are progressives because we care for humanity, and we can demonstrate our caring, our progressiveness, in our work with each other here in this community.

That's my view; others will disagree.  Each of us has traveled a unique path to get to this point where we are at this moment; and all of the events each person has experienced in their lifetime have shaped who they are as we sit here together in this community in this very moment.  And each of us will move forward from here with the momentum of a lifetime of events pushing them on.

May you find a moment of peace in the simple experience of being here in this space in this very moment in this very breath.

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