Saturday, December 23, 2017

Empathy is a muscle we have to work out.

And like all muscles, it can atrophy if we take it for granted. And since it's an organ of the mind that we can't physically see in the mirror, along with our biceps and hips, it's easy to assume that it's simply a matter of free will.

"I'm a better person because I feel compassion for people who's experiences I don't fully understand."

I spent a great deal of my life looking down my nose at people who didn't do this. People who only felt compassion for another person after it affected their own life experiences.

"Oh that's so great, [insert conservative homophobic Republican name], you NOW feel that love is love regardless of gender when it's affecting your own family but didn't when it was affecting the rest of the country? No. You don't get bonus points."

That's how I've felt the majority of my life. And now I see that that thought system was, in essence, no different than liking the band before they got famous. If I'm attached to the spreading of love and light only when it's on my own terms, that's not spirit; that's hubris.

For whatever reason, I developed stronger empathy muscles from a younger age. No different than friends who were gifted more muscular and attractive bodies from a younger age. There are some things we need to work harder towards and some things that come to us more naturally.

It's a shitty time in our history. But if we can't find our way towards a place of gratitude for all this darkness, to see that it's the God in all of us that's showing us the shadow of our collective human entity, then we will be doomed to repeat this cycle over and over. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

This is my resolve: to find a way to meet the darkness with love and to do this on a big scale. Everything I do is part of the long term plan to serve that mission. And I strongly believe that it's ok to have fun working towards a better world. We can't win the Superbowl by screaming at the television. I invite you to get involved in the way that most resonates with you and trust that your presence, your energy and the tiny little bit that you can do will absolutely have a ripple effect, culminating in the waive that which moves all of us in the right direction.

We build gyms to work out our biceps. Let's encourage each other to put more energy towards the institutions that work out the muscles we can't see. They're out there. Find the one that resonates with you and volunteer some time.

I don't know if this story is factual but it's sure as hell accurate. On a tour of the NASA facilities, John F. Kennedy noticed a custodial worker mopping the floor. He walks over to him and, in his folksy, politiciany way, asks the man what he's doing.

"Well, Mr. President," the custodian responded, "I'm helping put a man on the moon."

Today, I'm helping put a man on the moon by bringing my awareness to developing more empathy for those I disagree with. I'm going to give myself less brownie points for the bare minimum standard of not being overtly racist. I am grateful for the upbringing that I've had that made it easier for me to see more beauty in my fellow humans and I am doubling down on that. And I will have times of weakness when I'll momentarily forget this. I'll run out of willpower and be lacking sleep and will be frustrated at some personal issue and will forget. And when that happens, I invite you to remind me.

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