There are growing calls lately for people to be more compassionate, understanding and empathetic, among other things — and it’s easy to understand why; humanity is only just beginning to emerge from our relatively cold, brutal, fractured roots.
But are these calls genuine, and are they supported by concepts, notions and positions that stand the realistic chance of actually producing that which is being called for?
Or, to take a more pessimistic approach, what are the chances that these calls have been hijacked by malicious individuals and ideological causes in order to claim moral superiority and to demonise and dehumanise anyone who dissents from the acceptable views?
The reason I feel the need to ask these questions is because I’ve observed a common tendency of people to behave in ways that are contrary to what it is they claim to want, especially when it comes to matters of society and the world at-large…
Compassionate people imposing their perspectives on others and enforcing them with violence. People of understanding acting out in rage and ignorance when disagreed with. Empathetic human beings celebrating true carelessness towards some who lose their livelihoods, or even their lives, because they don’t like the person or because they don’t belong to the same in-group or perceived identity group.
What strikes me about most of these cases is that the people who engage in these behaviours don’t seem to be aware of any of the contradictions between their theoretical calls for peace and the behaviours which manifest the exact opposite. To them, these things are either completely justified with some loose rationale, or just something to overlook and laugh off.
Examples of this are replete throughout social movements that are hyper-focused on identity, where many who claim to be victims of oppression and violence will often initiate violence as a means of silencing dissenting viewpoints, offering up vague justifications of how the peaceful dialog they moved to censor was actually “violent speech,” and that they had to resort to violence to “protect their community.”
“If any assent is to be reached in human affairs, it must be by the result of the whole common consciousness; that is…