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As a former church musician, two come to mind: 

1. Draw the circle wide

2. In the Bleak Midwinter
This is my favorite hymn of all time for many reasons. The last verse is especially moving: 

What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb,
if I were a wise man
I would do my part,
yet what I can I give him,
give my heart.


I like that EA encourages us to think rationally and scrutinize strong emotions when making decisions. 
I also know that there are probably some stellar, untapped music and art recs from you nerds[1]. (It's a neglected topic on the forum.) So let's hear it---what art or music moves you to give or live effectively and altruistically? Can I find these gems elsewhere? 

  1. ^

    Term meant to communicate sincere affection. I consider myself nerdy and wear this descriptor with pride. 




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I love this post because over EAG last weekend I talked with a couple other people about songs with EA themes, and we thought about making a forum post with a list.

I like many of the songs by Vienna Teng, particularly Landsailor, which is “An ode to shipping logistics, city lights, globalized agriculture, and our interconnected world.”

As a bonus, there's also the The Precipice EDM remix (thanks @michel for flagging this one the other day lol).

Many of the songs associated with Secular Solstice[1] have strong EA themes, or were explicitly written with EA in mind.

A few of the more directly EA songs that I like:

  1. ^

    Lots of resources at that link, also an overlapping list of solstice songs here.

The singer-songwriter José González has mentioned being inspired by The Precipice and apparently other EA-related ideas. Take the charmingly scout mindset 'Head On':

Speak up
Stand down
Pick your battles
Look around
Pause your intuitions and deal with it
Head on

Even beyond Head On, I think the most obviously EA song in the album is Visions:


Imagining the worlds that could be
Shaping a mosaic of fates
For all sentient beings

Cycles of growth and decay
Cascading chains of events
With no one to praise or blame

Avoidable suffering and pain
We are patiently inching our way
Toward unreachable utopias

Enslaved by the forces of nature
Elevated by mindless replicators
Challenged to steer our collective destiny

Ironically, I think I may have listened to this song dozens or hundreds of time before someon... (read more)

Not a perfect translation, but I like proto-EA and leading Irish language poet Sean O Riordain writing a poem about moral circle expansion back in 1971. (It reads a lot better in the original language).


Apathy Is Out

There’s not a fly, moth, bee,
man, or woman created by God
whose welfare’s not our responsibility;
to ignore their predicament
isn’t on.

There’s not a madman in Mad Valley
we shouldn’t sit with
and keep company,
he’s sick in the head
on our behalf.

There’s not a place, stream or bush, however remote;
or a flagstone
north, south, east or west
that we shouldn’t consider
without affection and empathy.
No matter how far South Africa,
no matter how distant the moon,
they’re part of us by right:
there’s not a single spot anywhere
we’re not a part of. We issue from everywhere.

Beethoven's 9th. (75% not joking.) 

I find the genre Hopepunk incredibly inspiring. Vox article about Hopepunk;

Here's a Spotify playlist, which has some of the best songs of the genre.

Highlighting a couple of my favorites:

  • Be Afraid by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Spotify): "Be afraid, be very afraid. And then do it anyway" (AI alignment, anyone?)
  • Matches by Guante, Dem Atlas (Spotify): "The reason that I'm not a nihilist is that some day I wanna live like in Star Trek. And I know that we'll never build starships until we tackle poverty, war, and hardship." 
    • Guante is my personal favorite overall! His album A Love Song, a Death Rattle, a Battle (Spotify) gets me through any motivation slump.
  • Be More Kind by Frank Turner (Spotify): "In a world that has decided that it's going to lose it's mind, be more kind, my friends. Try to be more kind."

On the topic of hopepunk (and to an extent Secular Solstice since that came up in another comment), I want to mention the Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers, which is quite important to me for similar reasons.

The Ballad of Smallpox Gone is my favourite EA song. It's a banger, with great lyrics and reasonably easy to perform. 

Take a Minute by K'naan about the value of giving and epistemic humility lol

I'm not sure if this qualifies, but the Creative Writing Contest featured some really moving stories.

I have a spotify playlist of songs that seemed to rhyme with EA to me.

I really like Bastille's Hope For the Future (especially their Coal Drops version).
Be More Kind by Frank Turner is a really lovely song.

If you're willing to consider literature, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse is the book that led me to EA ways of thinking, and also the best book, in my opinion, that I have ever read.

That's so interesting! I've seen that a lot of people respond to that book by picking up the love of thinking totally unmoored from society that the glass bead game represents. But I read the book as a satire of that kind of thinking, or at least as a stark illustration of its limitations. I guess in that way it could be read as helpful to EA — we shouldn't think only for our own benefit. Is that the message you got from it? 

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