Empathy is such an amazing thing. It allows me to connect with people, to share in the basic understanding that we’re all human. In that, it is a blessing.
However, that blessing is really a curse in disguise. I become so overwhelmed by the constant influx of hate, exploitation, and death in the name of profit, that my brain wants to shut down, and my heart wants to stop.
I empathize with the people who want to leave their physical bodies, whether because of their own perceived personal shortcomings, or the world’s visible ones.
I was in the middle of reading a debate on the economic impact of moving to renewable energy instead of fossil fuels when I just couldn’t keep my mind still, because it was trying to wrap itself around the idea that we can’t stop the near annihilation of humanity’s presence on this earth because it is too expensive. Our arbitrary value system can’t accommodate it so instead of re-evaluating that system and changing it, drastically if need be, we just let every living creature die.
Sorry, kids, we can’t just use the money that we hand to billionaires to install solar panels, hydro plants, and wind turbines. They have to make a profit because… why? Why do they have to make a profit? Surely this is just as clear and defined to others as it is to me, it must be, I know that other people can see why this doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Why are we okay with people committing suicide because they’re forced to work slave wages in deplorable conditions in countries controlled by political puppets that do our filthy work? We promise to boycott those companies, but since most companies in developing nations are owned by a handful of conglomerates in economically advanced nations, does it make a difference whether I boycott?
The chains are everywhere, I can see them everywhere. They link you, and me, and we’re chained to these powerful entities who yank us away from loved ones, and choke us into submission when we try to resist. These governments, and corporations, fairly one and the same now, who lead us down whatever path they’ve created for us, and they offer only the illusion of choice.
My empathy understands why people are hesitant to fight back against that. I understand what happens when there is political and social upheaval. You don’t want your families to be caught up in it, you worry that they will become targets, or victims, that they will end up suffering because someone you’ll never meet is being treated poorly in a country you’ve never heard of.
A hundred thousand brown kids die every day from lack of food, clean water, shelter, or due to sectarian violence. It’s statistical chatter in the background while you pay for little Suzy’s braces, the clerk taking your credit card and thanking you for your patronage.
People would rather dance with the devil they know rather than the devil they don’t. That they would dance with a devil that causes them harm instead of take a chance that what they perceive as a devil may actually be a savior doesn’t register well with them, because humans are shit at risk assessment. We’re the species that creates the kinds of concepts that suggest gambling is a good option for increasing one’s personal wealth, even though every study done shows that the odds of actually improving your fortunes are millions upon millions to one.
So like our poor gamblers who are so desperate they have to throw down one more card, pull one more slot machine handle, spin the wheel just another time, humans take the risk that what they’re doing will pan out.
Certainly they’re aware that there is a piper to be paid, that someone will have to settle the balance when the time comes, but they tend to hold fast to the belief that they won’t have to pay the piper just yet. Surely someone will do something, and all will work out in the end.
Right now, in our political arena, the pre-fight show has started. Our Democratic Party has begun to prepare for the 2020 election showdown. On the platform, questions of whether or not a wall should be built, on whether the Green New Deal is too “liberal” for them to support, on whether or not they should appeal more to the “moderates” are being bandied about.
So already, for a little power, our most progressive political faction can’t even decide whether or not they’re actually progressive, because those policies aren’t as important as gaining power. Yes, some will say that to do good they have to obtain that power, but it is little comfort for those of us who hold tight to the bottom rung on the economic and social ladder, feeling the icy water sloshing about right under our noses.
Our system is broken, and it is broken because our people are broken. I know it isn’t solely the United States, and that other nations that consider themselves the center of western civilization are also succumbing to these isolationist, xenophobic ideas, these self-enriching patchwork ideologies.
I have been told my points of view have descended to blatant moralizing, and it is true, I moralize far more than I once did. When a friend made this comment at one point, I responded that it was because there was so much to do and almost no time left in which to do it. My message is becoming increasingly fraught with alarm, with urgency, for that very reason.
As I said, those of us on the bottom rung of the social, political, and economic ladder can see it coming. We know the water’s rising. It is only fitting that we panic because we’re going to drown in it long before the talking heads that sit well above us, high and dry, will have to worry.
We’re at the crucible. We are about to be tested, and if what is emerging now is any indication, we are going to fail miserably. We are going to drown in the great deluge of what is to come, and what few survivors remain will be scattered to the winds, their hopes, dreams, ideas of what they once knew of as a society of mankind at its apex, will follow them to its nadir, and all because it was too expensive to change course and head back toward the surface.