The justice our new resident workers deserve
I grew up in Suffolk County, and I am outraged and sickened by the brutal assault on two Mexican laborers. Our new resident workers are seen so unfairly. Immigrants have come to Suffolk County because of inequities in the world economy, in the same way our forefathers did, and like our forefathers, they deserve our understanding and respect.
     What those men met in that vicious assault, and endure on a daily basis in stares and comments, was motivated by contempt. According to Aesthetic Realism, founded by the great American philosopher Eli Siegel, contempt is the worst thing in a person, the disposition “to feel he will be for himself by making less of the outside world.” Siegel showed scientifically that contempt, so pervasive and ordinary, is the cause of all cruelty and economic injustice. Contempt, which caused the hideous crime against the two workers, is also the cause of the pretty ordinary feeling that it is OK for some people to be rich and others poor and to benefit from that circumstance. This has led to the current crisis in Suffolk County and nationwide.
      I know personally how hurtful this way of seeing people is. I was in the Dominican Republic in the 1970s as a student of anthropology from Columbia University. I had a large feeling from living among people who were different from me and learning from them. All the same, my letters home were full of mean and patronizing comments about people who had shared their lives with me, and my hope to build myself up academically through their lives made me dislike myself intensely. Thank God I learned why from Aesthetic Realism, and I learned there is at every moment a beautiful alternative to contempt, liking the world for its aesthetic structure. This is the best thing that ever happened to me.
      Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, writes in the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known: “A person before you–whether in a classroom or a subway is the world, and how you see the world is how you are going to see this person. When we see someone different from us, we either feel, ‘Here’s a chance to respect the world more by respecting him,’ or ‘Here’s a chance to get revenge on a world I don’t like by despising a person.’ ” Choosing respect instead of contempt, a person’s life changes for the better. There is no limit to the benefit from doing this!
      Prejudice and exploitation will end when this question asked by Eli Siegel is honestly answered: “What does a person deserve by being alive?” Aesthetic Realism is on the web at
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How Israelis and Palestinians need to see each other
There have been some angry letters in response to David Rattray’s powerful editorial “Images of War”…. But the relationship he points to between Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and Palestinians in Israel, 2002, must be looked at. Anything else is contempt for the facts.
      From Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the American philosopher Eli Siegel, I have learned how dangerous any form of contempt is. Mr. Siegel showed that there is a disposition in every person to be for themselves by making less of the outside world, which lessening is contempt. He has written: “As soon as you have contempt, as soon as you don’t want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person” (James and the Children, p. 65). Contempt has made for the suicide bombings and for the atrocities in the Jenin refugee camp documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.
      There is a way of seeing these horrifying events that is fair, and there is an answer. It is stated in a great commentary by Ellen Reiss, class chairman of Aesthetic Realism, in the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known No. 1515, dated April 17, 2002. “The tremendous lesson that arises from the anguish and brutality now going on in the land of Israel/Palestine is that humanity, all of us, must learn from Aesthetic Realism what contempt is. We must learn how contempt works in our own selves and how to criticize it…. If Jews, who have been so victimized, so brutalized, can become brutes themselves, who is not capable of large cruelty? Everyone is.
      The first thing in opposing contempt is seeing that one likes feeling that other things are less. As I studied Aesthetic Realism, I saw how much I had prided myself on a mocking sense of humor and a feeling that I could think anything I wanted to, as long as I didn’t let anyone know my thoughts. This was immensely hurtful to me. There was also the feeling that having my way was more important than anything else, including what is true. This feeling is being had by both sides on a monumental scale in the Middle East. The effects, individually and historically, are disastrous. The opposition to contempt must be studied.
      One instance of how contempt for difference can be opposed by respect and the desire to know is written about in a powerful statement by eight Israeli students of Aesthetic Realism, some of whom had served in the Israeli armed forces. “None of us saw the Arab people as real, with feelings as deep as our own. We saw them as less human than ourselves. This changed when, in 1982, at the time of the war in Lebanon, we did this vital Aesthetic Realism assignment, which is a first step in seeing what another person feels: to write a 500-word soliloquy about a person in an opposing nation. We wrote on: What does a Palestinian person feel to himself? What are his hopes, what are his fears?”
      This assignment is part of an education that can change the way people see each other. There is a website that includes this statement, the commentaries of Ellen Reiss, and many other vital articles, together with information on how Aesthetic Realism can be studied, at
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