Hate, dislike, sadness, vociferous difference of opinion - these are the ties that bind. And within a media environment in which people don't actually meet or talk to each other in person, where anonymity, or at least a physical distance, is a powerful tool, they may well become surprisingly robust ties.
Yesterday, I walked into the shopping centre of my local town, and I came across an artist at work. His poetry, written in chalk, spanned the pavement and I, like many others, paused to read. His work seemed to be aimed at generating thought and reflection, and if this was the case, it was certainly working.
If you knew of a method to help students improve their grades, their self-discipline, their focus, and their ability to manage stress, would you consider offering it in schools? If the side effects included stronger interpersonal relationships and increased intelligence, would you still consider it?
Brain research suggests that it really depends upon which part of your brain is most active. Neuroscientists have found that when they stimulate certain areas of the brain with electrical impulses, they can get their subjects to learn more rapidly, solve problems that previously eluded them, and most recently, to be more appreciative of art.
A friend of mine once said to me, "I don't know what God is, but when I look at a butterfly or a flower, I know that I can't do that." It is possible to view the world this way -- with the acceptance of uncertainty and appreciative curiosity for the mundane -- because of a set of networks in the nervous system that I refer to as the "growth function."
So you believe owning a dog makes you a selfless person? Where is the selflessness of all the owners of abandoned and neglected dogs across the length and breadth of this country? Did their generosity take flight once they discovered their pooches were going to engage in rapid and wanton defecation?