Jack Johnson has a song called The News and there is a line that often pops into my head as I watch various news programs throughout the day,

“A billion people died on the news tonight but not so many cried at the terrible sight.”

Photos of slaughtered animals, snapshots of Michael Jackson’s corpse on a gurney, video of Kaddafi’s body being dragged through the streets … harsh images invade our vision and sensibilities continuously, and we barely flinch. Blood, gore, death – they aren’t just for Halloween any more. These visuals are not via the artistic talents of special effects experts. But as genuine as these reflections are, we react as though we are watching an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants.

How have we become so desensitized and robotic? Have our tear ducts been stuffed with apathy? Is empathy an archaic concept? Are we losing our souls?

I would debate that our escalating disregard is directly related to our de-escalating compassion. Chicken or egg? I don’t know. But I do know that it is affecting how we interact with and treat one another. If we can so easily cheer a representation of a murdered human – enemy or not – how far are we from participating in the acts themselves?

I suppose I have more questions than answers – which I recognize isn’t particularly helpful. But they say the first step to a solution is acknowledging the problem.

We live in a cold civilization and it is becoming downright arctic. Just visit internet communities for such evidence. Not long ago, the most hateful dialogues were by anonymous avatars. Currently, even the most hostile are seemingly proud to use their real names because we are so shut down, there really are no social consequences to anti-human behavior.

Advocating for shooting those with opposing beliefs, calling people retards, spouting off racial slurs as if the civil rights movement never existed are rampant within online communities – even on our local Patch.

I have to wonder, what are our children are learning from our contentious words and antagonistic behavior. We are supposed to be combating bullying in the schools. We are telling kids that “it gets better.” We attempt to protect our youth from verbal and physical attacks. Yet adults, parents and community leaders display these shameful expressions daily.

We enjoy television shows that promote and glorify drunken brawls, adultery and betrayal. We attend sporting events excited to see the crash or bloody fight. Our televisions, mailboxes and radios are plastered with jugular slicing insults during each and every election.

We have become a nation of mean girls (and boys), bullies and empty shells.

We could blame the media – as I am certain that inspires real social change. We could blame our parents for being too busy or self involved. We could blame politics for its corruption and dishonesty. But all of that would be a waste of time. The buck stops with you and me and each individual because everyone is capable of making a choice.

I don’t believe our souls are lost. I think they are simply hiding. They are trapped under blankets of contempt, fear and anger. If we each choose, we can lift this load and give ourselves relief. We can open ourselves to more than just toxic reaction.

If we listen to, accept and respect one another – we truly can live together regardless of our loyalties. If we balance our intake of stimuli – we can gain proper perspective of good and bad. If we, even for one moment, put ourselves in the place of others – we can rebuild the empathy which is crucial to living in a civil society.

Oprah has this line, “When you know better, you do better.” So, how about we get our knowledge on, eh?

See original article and reader comments HERE


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