Countering Empathy Zero.

Empathy

First use of empathy

It seems our world is collapsing into a superstitious rage machine; fueled in part by greed, racism, sexism, sociopathic abuse, technological addiction, alcohol, drugs, video games, porn, superhero fantasies, and resentment. The collapse will not be spectacular but it will be a total collapse of our current democratic institutions. There’s not much we can do to stop it if we don’t acknowledge what is happeing. We can only offer to help those who will have to cleanup the mess and perhaps one day establish a new more equitable society.

Empathy Zero is the phrase I have been using to describe the moment we are existing in. The accelerated, yet slow motion crash of our society. Each rage inducing event is designed to reduce your empathy. Narrowing your concerns to make everything life and death survival for you at the expense of all others. Empathy Zero is the culmination of the dehumanizing forces of financializing, securitizing, dislocating and disenfranchising people from their everyday life. We are joined in a battle about material allocations that makes no space for the immaterial (spiritual or magical) aspects of life. Our all consuming desire for efficiency, comfort, productivity have stripped out the mystery of existence. Our fight for liberty or equality results in neither. No room remains for ambiguity (source of joy and anxiety). The demand that there must be a single answer and everyone should comply with either the prevailing or historical way.

There is no empathy in a transactional world no matter the material distribution formulas. I am not suggesting abandoning notions of liberty and equality but pointing out that there are not mutually exclusive. Our current political formations have divided us into thinking liberty is a conservative value and equality is a progressive value. Both values need to be combined in order to have a free society. Further those values are not enough. They do not define a complete society. I am not suggesting we all need to be synchronized to a single system or that centralizing our systems will solve the problems. We need to consider what a global belief system that accommodates a decentralized society would be like. A global system with room for small things, because small things are part of the human experience. Small things are destroyed when our global belief system attempts to centralize problem solving. Small does not mean less. Small means compact. Small means irregular and independent. Many small things may be connected to create a big universal thing but that doesn’t require centralized thing. It requires empathy and compassion. It requires accepting, respecting, and acknowledging differences. It requires discipline to resist monotonous and ponderous formations. The global belief system acknowledges we are different from each other but never lesser than.

By all means protest, resist, and be hopeful. Get your life in order, check your privilege, and try not to hate more than necessary. Hopelessness still requires action or you risk nihilism.

Love will not trump hate. Hate will surface in all of us. Hate the things you hate, but understand why. Hate is contained in the many things we possess. Losing the hate will requiring letting go of the beliefs and things we possess that contain the hate. You have to do it. No one can take it from you. Until you are ready to sacrifice and suffer to lose the hate you are a danger to others. Unfortunately hate can be bound to the things we love. Our love protects the hate, enables the hate, covers for the hate. So you may need to temporarily let go of your love. Love of your hateful self, love of hateful traditions, love of hateful actions that benefit you. Hurl your hate in the name of love at fellow humans and you risk destroying everything.

Once you know why you hate something or someone you can begin to change the conditions that created the hate. Redirect it toward the necessary solutions and perhaps something better will emerge but be prepared to suffer. Suffer with the knowledge you may save some small part of humanity by processing the hate into something useful rather than allowing the hate to consume you and everyone around you. Some hatred is so deep you will never be able to resolve it. In those situations let the hate be a warning for you. Something for you to stay away from. Alert other people not to warn them but to warn yourself. Understand what you are about to do and remove yourself from the situation. Your hate is your problem not someone else’s. They don’t need to change. They don’t need to give you space. You need to change and give them space. You are the one with the problem. What matters is what you do with the hate.

Empathy doesn’t require you excuse bad behavior, only that you consider what the other persons may be experiencing. Losing empathy places an individual identity as the center of all things. While it’s tempting to believe you are the most important person in your life, radical individualism is not going to solve anything. As we see, relying on individual priorities rarely produces good results and usually distorts a persons view of the world until they are so self centered that nothing outside of their beliefs is real. Organizing and committing to your affinity group is essential to accomplishing worthwhile things. This doesn’t eliminate the need for ego. Individual identity isa valuable component of organizations. It’s only when the ego is supreme over the super ego or worse when the ego is so extreme it reverts to the id. (The baby wants what the baby wants.) Organizations can be a political party, a professional organization, a spiritual group or religious organization, a trade union, a syndicate, a burning man camp, a hobbyist group and so on. The scale of an organization matters. Each organization has an optimal scale and structure to accommodate it’s mission. The mission also must be grounded in something substantial that merits the overhead of a structure. Groupthink is problematic but so is isolating yourself from others points of view. Our evolution is propelling us toward a new kind of humanity but none of it is guaranteed. We can fail and most likely many will. Empathy Zero does determine survival. We may very well survive without empathy but what we become may not be recognizable as humanity currently exists. It’s also important to understand competition. Competition has value and danger. Competing to produce the best result is an important part of human development. Competing and crushing your competitors is dangerous and makes you lose sight of the future. Empathy stops the destructive urge to see only yourself as real.