Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What has happened to compassion, empathy and the complexity of human encounters?

What happens when the world acts as if it believes the maxim that s/he with the most money/toys/power/status wins?
Those who are searching for purpose, meaning, identity and what has been known as a "good life" get caught in a trap of following along on a path that can and will only lead to enhanced anxiety, vacuity and perpetual searching....for another "thing"....
And, in that equation, naturally, other people become just another "thing" to be manipulated, used, trashed, and abused.
Politicians use their bully pulpits to trash their opponents.
Corporations use their opportunities to engage with clients, for their own profit first, and then, provide a thing or a service for the client.
Universities, colleges use their students as numbers on a graph that demonstrates their percentage of graduates, as compared to their competitors across town, employing the short-term marketing guidelines that devour numbers as proof of success.
The Mayor of Toronto goes on Jimmy Kimmel to reel off his accomplishments, especially the one about saving the people $1 billion, in front of a back drop of scandal, deception, high-living and contempt for both the office and the city.
Putin marches thousands of troops into Crimea just days after pouring billions into Sochi, in an unabashed triumph of both his will and his hubris. He does it because he can.
And the world, weary from one war, in Iraq that was executed on specious and contemptible rationale, faces Putin with no money, energy or will to counter his 'invasion' except with words of threats...most of them hollow if they are not coming from a unified voice.
Women on campuses are being "raped" allegedly in a culture in which students speak idly and openly about "raping" an exam...as if they "scored" another notch on their "achievement" belt....once again for bragging rights in the pub with their peers.
"Scoring" is just another way of keeping track of what have to be orgasmic experiences, of the extreme variety, as if extreme sports are not restricted to some man-made pipes and rails and bumps in snow and ice on a hill somewhere.
Even some of our best novels are written as treatises, deploying individual people as the mouthpieces conveying the thoughts and world views of their writers, leaving the readers gasping for some way to connect with those characters as authentic people.
We compartmentalize, and we compare and we trash 'the other' no matter what the reason, even when those reasons are little more than "stubbing the toe" of the other, as if we would never be so stupid or so  dumb or so self-absorbed as to stubb our tow in a similar manner.
We have lost, or at least are clearly losing our desire to see human beings as whole, and as vulnerable and as somewhat pathetic, yet also as more than just another "thing" providing some kind of  instant gratification, or not, depending on the degree to which each person buys into the requirement to conform, in the transaction.
We have become mere chess pieces in somebody's or some corporation's or some family's chess board, and we did not negotiate that development, nor agree to its terms, nor do we know how to change the 'contract' to which we did not sign our names. We are in danger of rendering the complex and messy and natural and unpredictable encounters in human lives to some accountant's version of reality, as if our emotions and our politics and our ambitions and our institutions can be reduced to various spread sheets that demonstrate our determination to polish all details for a public viewing, every hour of every day of every week and month of every year.
We have become empty robots seeking just another thrill, as if we are frozen in a form of adolescence from which most of us were relieved to be free.

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