The past five years have been a grueling journey. My arc has not always been well-defined, but a prime directive stood tall: to finally know myself, my capabilities, and the trajectory that I must follow. I have gone from fallen caricature of destruction to a mostly benevolent force with latent shadow. There have been bumps along the way and I have stumbled at times to replace the shadows within with light, but I am finally at peace. Our deeds are the only things that survive our death in this physical realm. We have near-unlimited choice in those deeds we pursue and can inflict great burden, relief, or both on those around us. I have decided, with a degree of finality, that I must be a force for good. There is no other choice.
It is another year but the same old dog and pony show. Empathy can easily be weaponized, and true manipulation preys on it. This time around, empathy is being used to further a cause without the participants paying the required price for civil disobedience. Yes, I’m talking about the recent walkouts across America by underage political activists seeking to severely weaken (or abolish) the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. I have no dog in this fight at the surface, but I do believe that the rights bestowed upon the American people should be as wide and far-reaching as possible and that attempts to limit or take away rights, no matter the rationale or net impact, should be placed under the most objective gaze of scrutiny. What interests me, however, is the common and far-reaching attempt to use empathy as a weapon in the war for the hearts of man.
Modern technology has us all convinced that we are more important than we are; that networks are proper surrogates for deeds. People measure their worth in the number of followers or page hits that they have, and no longer view themselves objectively through the lens of accomplishment. This false empowerment leads to a self-induced psychopathy at worst and an equally self-induced narcissism at best. We are witnessing a young generation feeding into their own echo chamber, in which their thoughts are amplified but no actual deed is created.
If you haven’t read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, you really should. It tells the tale of a kingdom facing ruin from a devastating plague, holding its valued citizens in relative safety within the walls of its castle. There, they eventually hold a great costume party where all are hidden behind masks. The masquerade ends with the unveiling of one of its participants: the red death itself. A modern reimagining of this classic could be framed in terms of identity politics, where each member of some “sacred” group is forced to wear a mask to appear pure to the larger mass. The coming end will be revealed once the mask falls and everyone realizes that no one actually cares about each member of the political alliance; that it was effectively a charade of deception. Forced purity and the coming ruin is the focus of this post.
Same story, different day. Every time there is an act of mass murder, the same debate always pops up. Namely, neurotypicals – used here as meaning not mentally ill – want to know how they can protect themselves from the dreaded neuroatypicals. People with mental illness are categorically seen as guaranteed time bombs waiting to go off. Are there some mentally individuals that will lash out because of disordered cognitions? Yes. Are there many more that just wish to live their lives free of the pressures of a neurotypical elite and majority? Also yes. Bad things happen to good people every day. A free society will never be able to protect themselves fully, but they can ensure that the playing field is level.