In this fantastic TED talk – Jeremy Rifkin talks about the research and reality of empathy … something not always seen in today’s society, but present at the very core of our beings from birth.
One of the powerful questions that arose for me after watching this was;
So what does it mean when we make an active choice to remove ourselves from the messy arena of human struggle and suffering? What happens when we chose to move out into the woods, away from those who would challenge our sense of safety and insulation and the reality of our privilege. When we turn off the tv and the radio, stop reading the news, stop going to the places where the ‘others’ live, work and struggle to survive?
On Friday night, Pascal, Kendra and I went to the Stone Soul Festival in Springfield, right around the corner from where we live. It was Friday night and there weren’t that many people there. There was a soul band on stage and the music was great … “People all over the world, join hands, start a love train … love train …” There were probably 150 people in chairs, hanging out, singing to the music. It was lovely. There were children dancing, parents and grandparents singing along, teenagers wandering around … all kinds of good food and friendly faces. It was a feast for the heart.
On Saturday night, the police were called in, 3 young men were arrested, and the festival was closed at 8pm.
A well received comment on the WWLP Channel 22 News page: [This one is fairly mild in terms of the language used. Some are much more vicious and pointed.]
So why the gap between what is possible, what is innate to human beings … EMPATHY … and this? I think it may have something to do with an idea that I have suggested in the past. Many of us are living in a state of trauma all the time. On the edge of fight or flight. THIS emotional state is transmitted to others as we interact. The calming, peaceful, empathic, loving energy that is needed to help alleviate and mediate the conflict in MY community has moved away to the hill towns and the suburbs. And when I read a news story like this one … I am tempted to follow, to abandon this ship that is Springfield, MA.
“Um… Why have these events in the first place? This is not a shock. ANIMALS live in Springfield. I do not!
Won’t ever go back to the city I grew up in.”
And sadly, the empathy that I will bring to the situation, like that of so many others, will no longer be here as a contagious influence.
And then I imagine … what is it like in Pakistan, Haiti, Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan?
What would it be like if the fists were replaced by BOMBS?
Truth is, I can’t imagine.