Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - August 29, 2021
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)


  1. A Program to Save Humanity
  2. Plato’s Republic and the Authoritarian Option
  3. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

1. A Program to Save Humanity

There are several human tendencies that impede collective action. We tend to bond tightly with relatives and people we know well, and we tend to have much less concern for other individuals. We tend to identify with one or more familial, cultural, political or intellectual tribes, which encourages us to believe (or claim to believe) in falsehoods in order to demonstrate allegiance to our tribe. We tend to yield to short-term desires rather than pursue long-term needs. Last, our minds are ill-equipped to handle the massive amount of information presented by our technologically advanced civilization.

How, then, are we to effectively address the challenges that threaten human civilization, including climate change, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, increasingly effective surveillance technologies, and growing personal, institutional, and governmental debt? Encouraging people to act according to the wider public good runs counter to the strong human tendencies mentioned above.

Nations can be mobilized toward collective action by an immediate external threat, such as an invading army, or by an acute crisis, such as a natural disaster. However, such broad communal efforts are episodic, and history has shown that humans have great difficulty maintaining this mindset over the long term. Further, to the degree that communal cohesion derives from opposition to other people, this sentiment has limited value in efforts to save humanity from global threats.

I do think there might be a common cause that could inspire humans to action. We have inherited magnificent cultural gifts that can enrich our lives in many ways. Perhaps if there were broad appreciation of these gifts, people would recognize an obligation to protect them so that they could be passed to future generations. I will expand on these thoughts next.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.


2. Plato’s Republic and the Authoritarian Option

A central part of Jesus’ ministry involved instructions on how to build communities grounded in love. This is an alternative to the scapegoating mechanism, in which contempt and hatred for “others” unites people. This is the “beloved community,” a term popularized by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last essay, I considered strengths and weaknesses of democracies. This week, I will consider authoritarianism. Many people are attracted to authoritarian governance. While some of the motivations might be more psychological than practical (e.g., an infantile wish for protection by an omnipotent “father figure”), authoritarian regimes do offer some theoretical advances over democracies. In particular, authoritarians can make swift and decisive decisions, and governance does not require the mandate of a populace that can be fickle or ill-informed.

The problem with authoritarian regimes, of course, is that the authoritarians generally serve their own interests rather than those of the populace. Plato tried to address this problem by proposing that a just city would select from among its members the most meritorious person (man or woman) whose philosophic wisdom would guide them to best serve the needs of the people. Importantly, they would be inspired to such general benevolence because children would be taught that such governance is the will of the gods. Here, I think, is the problem. What if the philosopher king/queen comes to the conclusion that the gods don’t exist, or that they exist differently as envisioned by the ancient Greeks, or that their desires are not as benevolent as Plato would have wanted? In other words, if a wise and thoughtful king/queen came to reject a theology that is nearly universally regarded today as fictional, the foundation of the Republic would collapse. Then, there would be little reason for the king/queen to sacrifice self-interest in favor of general well-being. Even if the king/queen remained devoted to the Greek gods, would it not be tempting for the king/queen to believe that the gods wished to serve the king’s/queen’s interests predominantly? Finally, what if many adults became skeptical of these views about the gods? How can we expect them to teach children things they themselves don’t believe.

Next week, I will offer an ambitious but, in my opinion, viable strategy for saving humanity.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.


3. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

Here are our recent All-Creatures Newsletter, which we hope you like and share with others to help stop the exploitation and killing of animals.


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