Bullying the Bully
Dear old and new friends,
Humans have a marvelous built-in emotional capacity to be empathetic, to be able to share in another's emotions and sufferings, and so to take some action to help them. Empathy seems innate and not a learned behavior, and is experienced by animals as well as humans.
Bullying, the humiliating done by the bigger stronger kids, male or female, over the weaker and often somehow “different” schoolmates, is an acknowledged problem. With negative empathy we identify with the victims of abuse, empathetically sharing in their desire for vengeance against their abusers. Until I came upon the idea of this negative empathy I never understood (always striving to be a man of nonviolence, peace, love and compassion) why I took such delight when, near the end of old Western movies, the “bad guy” (almost demonic in his evilness) in a fair fight was fiercely beaten up and disgraced by the good guy before whole the town.
Today, we can add to the positive and negative a third form of empathy…empty empathy. From seemingly endless agencies, all wonderful and worthwhile, by mail and television come graphic photographs of cleft palate afflicted children and crippled, hungry, sick and homeless ones. The result of this continuous over-exposure is empty empathy; we see but don’t feel. Oh, there may be a flicker of sympathy but it soon is dissipated. Modern media can and does dehumanize us by taking us beyond what is humanly possible! We should strive to maintain a wholesome, holy empathy as an expression of our growth in love. A possible solution to these mass marketing solicitations is to choose one or more agency or group to support, and forget about the others.
An authentic threatening danger exists that can even do away with empathy! Watch your children! Watch yourself! Ceaseless, incessant use of digital technology is eating away at our humanity. Recent studies, as reported by sociologist and author Sherry Turkle, show a steep decline in empathy as measured by psychological testing among college students of the smartphone generation! For her these amazing digital technological creations are capitalism in hyper drive, pouring its logic of consumption and efficiency into our every waking moment. As more and more of the population of all ages become addicted to their smartphones, watch for a consequential communal decline in empathy in others—and in yourself.
Along with smartphones we need smart people…those who schedule frequent times to be “disconnected,” and so be refreshed and rehabilitated by quiet separateness and visits to their inner-world. Mysterious, silent times in your inner-world reinforces a secure sense of self that sends you back into the greater world’s crazy hubbub renewed in peacefulness and with a Good Samaritan’s affluent empathy.