I’m starting to wonder whether there is something happening to our species genetically/evolutionarily that we are seeing such a rise in what I term utter cruelty to those who are more defenseless than ourselves, whether it is just that we hear more about it in the information age, or whether this is a reaction to overall feelings of despair, helplessness, and powerlessness in our society/world. In my opinion, when people feel powerless, they will sometimes strike out at those more powerless than they are in order to get some control over the chaos of their lives. There are other paths and many take them. I realize that. But, this “If I subdue this child/cat/dog, etc., therefore I have control,” issue feels more and real and valid to me.
The vile man who viciously beat his puppy (a post I put up yesterday on FB), the deviant who duct-taped a cat’s face and paws shut (but left him in the parking lot of an animal shelter) so the kitty almost died, the bombing in Boston, and so many others that I have seen and been sickened by – what do they all have in common?
And what’s more important, how do we treat the disease rather than the symptoms? How do we find the spark that will lead to awareness of the plight of others: people, animals, the environment? I can’t help thinking that awareness will lead to compassion, and compassion will lead to action. Eventually, to survive, our species will have to find compassion and act on it, or I fear we will destroy ourselves. We live in a global village. We can no longer afford to not notice or not care about how others are treated.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that I am privileged. I live well. I do work I love. One of the reasons I can even spend time contemplating this issue is because I am not doing back-breaking work in a field somewhere. By accident of birth, by the choices my parents made to bring us to the USA, by a lot of luck, I have a very different life than I otherwise might have had.
But, the life I have is the life I have and because of this, I need to speak out, ask the questions, and act. How do we combat this trend? What can we do, individually, to change the trajectory?
I feel like Master Yoda had it right. I’m paraphrasing here: Greed, anger, hate – these lead to the dark side. I believe with all my heart that they do. And with all my heart, I believe we can change. We can grow. We can find compassion and not just for those in our immediate circles. We can see one another and all beings as part of a greater whole. When we see each other, truly see each other, we recognize all as part of our one big, noisy, infinite, chaotic, glorious family. We all matter: the children, the women, the men, the animals, the plants, the rocks, the waters, the clouds, the very air we breathe. Each must be equally important if we are to survive and dare I say it, thrive.