In my 33 years on earth I can’t recall entering into a new year feeling more downhearted about my fellow-man. I wonder if the sizable consumption of happy ending theater and sappy entertainment I was raised on was the reason I had clung onto the “man is inherently good” mantra for most of my life. Maybe it was that we as a whole were much better people in decades past. Or perhaps it’s simply that I’ve caught the plague, in the form of the common flu, that has me particularly contentious at the end of this holiday season. There seems to be no shortage of examples of rampant negativity, dirty fighting and ignorant interactions happening online everyday. But it’s the disgusting conduct of youtube “star” Logan Paul that has me particularly irked.
Paul, a popular vlogger, and millennial tool turned multi-millionaire decided to take a jaunt into a notorious Japanese suicide forest. Upon stumbling on a man’s lifeless body, Paul filming himself and moronic cohorts, documented the encounter all while gawking, teasing and making light of the morbid encounter. The entire video goes seemingly without a single moment of anyone taking into consideration the depths of human despair and endless pain that this man must have experienced to think that the only way out, the only way to feel relief, was by way of death. Paul and his posse were only thinking of themselves, their views, their millions and what this moment meant to them and only them. The worst part of this all is that it doesn’t surprise me. As a whole, we are so self-focused, and not in an animal-instinct/survival of the fittest way. Our overall inability to empathize and show compassion in itself is leading to a mass narcissistic sickness.
When I began to look online about how to battle casual narcissism, the most referenced tool was to learn compassion. Along with opposable thumbs and some other traits, a human’s ability to show deep compassion separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. I would be willing to bet that most people reading this would be unable to properly define compassion or truly understand the differences between it and empathy. Most people probably consider themselves empathetic, and that should not a difficult hurdle to clear, considering that empathy refers to a general ability to take the perspective and feel the emotions of another person. However the cure to all rests with compassion, and that is when we take that sense of empathy and pair it with the DRIVE TO HELP.
The other day, I posted an article on my Facebook page titled I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People which delved into a much deeper divide into our society and pointed out many of the issues I am bringing up today. When I shared this post, I specifically pulled this quote from the story:
Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family. If you aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac, you’re a fundamentally different person than I am.
It was just one blurb from the well-written article but I thought it really hammered the point, one which I entirely agree with. I was raised in a Republican household, both of my parents and half of my siblings are still Republicans (some on the fiscal conservative side and other’s on the Sara Palin lovin’ Fox News addict side). And I considered myself a Republican until I stepped away from the politics I was “taught” in my home and began to explore my own desires for my society. My opinions don’t always align in any one direction, but when deciding between the lesser of evils, I do find one side of the aisle to be far more compassionate than the other. This said, I’ve got a wide and diverse social network and it didn’t take long to illicit a comment from a fellow facebooker who told a tale of their parents coming from Cuba and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps because there is endless opportnity, etc.
The comment was a complete miss of the mark, the article, which the commenter clearly didn’t bother to read was about compassion. What was I suppose to pull from this comment? That this second generation Cuban was unwilling to fork over the extra 17 cents for a big mac because their parent’s managed to, during a completely different era and economy (one not yet completely clinched by oligarchs) get rich? Umm, okay. Clearly this is someone who didn’t even bother to invest the energy to comprehend what it was I was trying to express in my post before unleashing their own their ink stained opinions and unrelated malarkey on me. I’m fairly certain this is the electronic equivalent of just waiting for your turn to speak. Heavy sigh.
If you are busy thinking about what the world owes you, you sir are a narcissist, seek help.
The fact is that most of us are, at the very least from time to time. I know I am, and it’s something that I am actively trying to get better at. If compassion is the only cure for the particular brand of madness that most of us possess, then I suggest we all get 300 cc’s of compassion into our daily diet…. STAT.