The Lack Of Empathy In America


Something has been weighing on my mind the last few years that I haven’t exactly known how to articulate that I was finally able to put my finger on this morning. I would like to say this feeling started with the Trump days but I don’t think that is correct either. Truth be told I think what I’m about to say has existed through out all of man time since the caveman days before we were able to speak. Well what is it, you might be asking yourself. I’m talking about three things, narcissism, the lack of being able to empathize and accountability for one self.

Very few people like to call themselves the villain in any given scenario even less so that they are in the wrong. Let me put it in perspective from a quote from one of my favorite authors, Terry Goodkind.

“There is no such thing as pure good or pure evil, least of all in people. In the best of us there are thoughts or deeds that are wicked, and in the worst of us, at least some virtue. An adversary is not one who does loathsome acts for their own sake. He always has a reason that to him is justification. My cat eats mice. Does that make him bad? I don’t think so, and the cat doesn’t think so, but I would bet the mice have a different opinion.”

The mice have a different opinion. Let’s just stop reading what I’m writing for a second and let that sit in.

The point of all of that is no matter how angry and justified you feel that you are, the person you are angry at will always have their own point of view. They aren’t going to feel the same way you do because they are going through a different experience than you are. Each person that reads what I’m writing right now is going to take a different impact than I have writing it.

What I feel has happened in the last 40 years or so, ever since the 80’s really, is that our American culture has become less of a trying to understand someone else and instead making it only about our own pain. I mean I think this has been going on since the dawn of time but we’ve grown into such a narcissistic culture where if anyone disagrees with our own opinion or gets angry, we’re automatically labeled wrong. We are so quick to cut ties, push people away and live in our own little bubbles instead of trying to get along and understand the human experience of life!

I would be a liar if I said that I sometimes don’t play a part of this myself, I am not a martyr. Instead the older I get, and especially in the last year and a half, I have gone out of my way time and time again to place myself in another shoes to try and understand their pain even though my own feelings are deeply hurt. Understanding how I hurt someone better gives me tools on how to be a better person. Understanding someone else’s pain helps me be accountable for my own wrong doing and the part I play.

That’s the biggest problem I feel American culture is facing today. Nobody wants to hold themselves accountable anymore. Nobody really wants to apologize and everyone wants to shove each other away. To quick do we live in a culture where people can point out in a whimper, “they’re gas lighting people mommy!” When faced with an opinion they disagree with from someone they dislike, they rather hide from the truth than ask hard hitting questions. These people don’t want to ask the right questions like I wonder why do they say the things that they do, why do they think that, can I see this through their perspective? Instead no.

Most people in life will always choose what is easy than is right. Like Henrik Ibsen wrote in An Enemy of the People:

I proclaim it now! I am a revolutionist! I am in revolt against the age-old lie that the majority is always right! Was the majority right when they stood by while Jesus was crucified? Was the majority right when they refused to believe that the earth moved around the sun and let Galileo be driven to his knees like a dog? It takes fifty years for the majority to be right. The majority is never right until it does right. . Before many can know something, one must know it! It’s always the same. Rights are sacred until it hurts for someone to use them.

And that dear people… is just where I believe our culture is heading these days.

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