A reader shared the following comment a few days ago:
I’ve been stalking your blog/ftumblr for a few days. I must say that I’ve never found someone else that I can relate as much as you.
I like the way you see the world because we pretty much have the same view.
I think that’s pretty interesting.
And have a question for you? My therapist made it yesterday: If you we’re driving and crossed the red sign, hitting another car with a mother and child inside and you killed then in the process. What would you feel?
I wasn’t able to answer this for some reason. That’s not a practical question. I don’t drive and I think the whole scene is a unnecessary risk. I hate taking unnecessary risks(kind of). And I never hurt someone, accidentally. I think I’d probably get angry at myself for being stupid and doing something that will get me arrested.
I don’t know if you already talked about something like that before, but I’m curious about accidentally hurting unknown innocent people.
First, before answering their question: always feel free to leave feedback and/or questions in the comments or via email. I am glad to correspond with my readers and the topics can also lead to new material, which benefits both of us.
So the question posed is: how do I react to the times that I harm “innocent” people? It really comes down to the effect on me. If there is no effect on me, I simply do not care and I chalk it up, usually, to recklessness. That assumes that I wasn’t seeking some gain in using or harming that person. If I was seeking out that “victim”, then I certainly would feel nothing regarding it. It’s just business. However, that all changes if there are consequences for my actions.
Take the car crash example that the reader poses. Let’s make the assumption that the hypothetical accident was my fault, but neither intentional nor alcohol-related. Say, the result of carelessness. I highly doubt that I would be concerned or emotionally distraught about the victims of the crash, specifically. The turbulence I would feel would come from the knowledge that there would be a world of inconvenience incoming as a result. Higher insurance premiums and finding a new car would be the least of such worries. An over-eager justice system and society seeking vengeance would register much more. I certainly hope that I never get put in that position.
This is what confuses me most about the non-psychopath. They willingly expend energy on actions that do not affect them. Regret, remorse, and fear plague their minds as they worry about those that they accidentally, or intentionally, damaged. That simply does not seem logical to me. Why waste time, money, or your own energy dwelling on those you’ve hurt if it does not affect you in the least?
The sorrows and misfortunes of other do not matter to me so long as they do not affect me. This includes times when the sorrows are caused by my own actions. I stay on a pro-social path because the consequences of the alternative could be disastrous for me. Not because I care about the innocents that are harmed as a result of my actions. I don’t just mean in a legal sense, but in an ethical sense. Why degrade yourself when your actions have no consequence? Worry about such when they do.