The First Step Is Rationalizing Empathy

I think it is the cold, calculating, lonely mind that invents department stores. Department stores that sell everything you need for much cheaper prices with plastic labels and plastic parts and plastic materials. Even the food is plastic. But it’s cheaper, and definitely more efficient.

I think it is the mind that has dug itself into a hole of rationalizing efficiency that has led us to these impersonal and inhuman means of relating to each other. It is the mind that seeks money, growth, efficiency, stability and even predictability that has led us to these circumstances where purchasing anything you want has become so easy. In fact, everything has become so easy. Never before in history could we sit and watch hours of youtube videos and feel fine about it. Everything has become easier. Well, almost everything. Relating with each other has probably gotten harder. 

We’ve gotten used to becoming a number. Becoming a statistic. As the video cameras watch us from the street, helicopters peer falcon-like from overhead and hysteria over identity fraud, national security, and internet terrorism have made it hard to remember that you live in a regular town with regular people. They have made it difficult to feel comfortable having conversations with strangers.

Countless studies have been performed regarding the health benefits of living in a society with strong bonds. Whether you have many close friends and family members or are part of an organization, you are more likely to be happier and healthier. But what happens when you aren’t with your friends, you’re away from your family, you live in a new city full of unfamiliar faces where people walk by and you can feel each time that you will never see them again? What does that feel like? It is not some sort of temporary lonely feeling, rather it is a sense of cosmic loneliness that digs at every interaction you have; a base anxiety where you question if people even care for one another.

What would happen if people understood that the reason they wanted to make money, the reason they wanted the job that they had, the reason they don’t talk to each other, is all their own way to feel loved or capable of being loved? What if they knew that it is all a defense mechanism, protecting them from disappointment, building their self-esteem enough to the point where they feel like they are lovable enough? What if they knew that the local supermarket or bike store that just shut down was full not just of fruits and bicycles, but people that they could connect with? People that were part of the community? 

How is it possible for you to pass so many people in one day and not be in awe?

Is it possible, when none of your immediate friends or family are with you, when you should feel lonely, to think of everyone as your family? To see yourself as part of the human experience and to feel genuinely a part of everyone? Is it possible to feel the same way about animals? Nature? Our planet? Can our sense of belonging escape from the very finite threshold of what we call “friends and family?” I think so. But it takes a lot of work on our part.  And our rationalizing mind is right there waiting for us to slip up and tell us that it’s a stupid idea.  So maybe the first step isn’t to disregard rationalism. Maybe it should be to understand that community, feeling loved, and feeling a sense of belonging is why we’re all doing what we’re doing in the first place. With that knowledge, we can cut through the bullshit and focus on what is more important. On what is right in front of us. TC mark 

image – RD the Milkman

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