I spent most of the past week on vacation, traveling across the country to scope out a possible new home. I had four flights during that time and each one brought visions to mind of the doomed European flight of a few weeks ago. While I realized that such imaginings were not grounded in reality, I found myself thinking “does this pilot suffer from the same problems that the other pilot did? Is this a doomed flight?” Of course, my flights went just fine, but I found myself uncomfortably succumbing to the same paranoia I preach against. At what point do we conduct a witch hunt, looking for those with mental illness that will snap and at what point do we place ourselves into the hands of Chance and realize that probability dictates that we can expect to be safe?
Archives for April 2015
People hold empathy for different groups in manners that are unequal. Consider the activist that spends her time fighting for cause X. Those afflicted with X get an unequal share of her empathy and her efforts. Maybe the rest of the groups around her are in a relative deficit, but that does not mean that she need be antagonistic to those that are not aligned with her cause. However, more often than not, we see empathy applied in a manner that grants it to one group while taking it away from another. Consider, rightly or wrongly, the religious freedom bills being passed in many states recently. The lawmakers are empathizing with small business owners while leaving other groups’ fate to hang in the balance. Alternatively, you could think of those championing LG rights as being antagonistic toward the small businesses that would operate more comfortably with more autonomy. It’s all about perspective.
I wrote recently about how many faux psychopaths seek to erase their uniqueness in order to blend in with the antisocial crowd. While such a thought process is ultimately flawed, it does play to neurotypical biases. Antisocials recognize the uniqueness of each individual who is psychopathic or otherwise antisocial while the neurotypical seeks to paint us as replicas of a master prototype. They do not want to admit that the psychopath can just as easily attempt to walk a prosocial path as they can a dark and disturbed one. It ruins the narrative to find out that some psychopaths are not abusers, not murderers, not delusional, so on and so forth. In the neurotypical’s echo chamber, these voices add up and paint us all as one.
There is something so powerful about dehumanization. Nations often use dehumanization to turn the gaze of the public elsewhere, anywhere but toward the realm of empathy for the enemy. The horrid image that I lead this post with is a reminder of the bigotry and hatred that can arise as a result of dehumanization. We are taught that our enemies are less than human, and as such, unworthy of empathy, compassion, or understanding. Animals are beings that are less than human, worthy of hunting, killing, and devouring. We lose no sleep over the fate of the fly on the wall, do we?