I hardly know where to begin this post. What typically drives an essay is rage.
I’ve always had a temper, and what makes me maddest are bullies. When the strong pick on the weak is when my rage gets activated. I’ve hated bullies since before I even knew what the word was….but then, I was the fourth of five children. And small. And sensitive. I heard the words “you’re too sensitive” repeatedly during my childhood. For the record, I prefer the term “exquisitely tuned”. Yes, there is a price to pay.
Anger is healthy. I believe our emotions are natural and right; they are not actions, and thus we do ourselves a favor by feeling them. Mostly, it seems, we try not to feel, unless it’s pleasure. Then, we can’t get enough.
Empathy is a double edged sword, because empathy is putting yourself in another’s place as best as you can. If the other is suffering, well, you get to suffer, too.
In the inner city, there is a name for making kids have less empathy, to “harden” them for life: Crimping. It’s considered a kindness, because life is so hard for those who can feel.
Empathy seems to be another dwindling resource, one we actively work to reduce. There are real evolutionary reasons for this, of course. One must be able to kill another in order to eat, to live.
We’ve been taught, pretty systematically, to hate nature because of the “in your face” sort of killing that has to happen. I watched a Cooper’s Hawk nail a Mourning Dove the other morning. He or she swooped in, caught a slow bird, and sat on it as it flailed and struggled. I watched it begin to eat the other bird while it was still breathing.
The hawk had no motive, other than to exist. It had no “hatred” of the mourning dove, it had no feelings at all, that I could see, other than hunger.
We humans come up with all kinds of stories to explain or justify our decreasing ability to feel. So we can begin to think, if it’s not happening to me, it’s not happening. If it doesn’t affect me directly, no need to see it, think about it, feel it. After all, who wants to be labelled a bleeding heart?
We learn to crimp ourselves, to systematically reduce our sensitivity to our environment. We are turning ourselves, pretty cheerfully as far as I can tell, into zombies. Zombies have no emotions at all, a fairly comfortable existence when you are at the top of the food chain.
I can point to all kinds of evidence to support this, from police shooting, beating and/or tasering unarmed people to a woman who made her living filming her torture of animals for others sexual pleasure. Only people utterly emotionless, utterly disconnected from empathy, can do these things. These are horrible acts.
Funding lies about climate change while at the same time knowing that climate change is real and planning how to make money on the destruction…..that seems kinda horrible.
Denying children access to nutritious hot meals at school is an empathy-less act. Denying quality education, for that matter, is zombie-like. Saying that you are “pro-life” as you do these things…..yep, zombie logic.
We accept all of these things as if they are normal.
Where does it end? No place good. In Zombieland, we are all commodities.