“Like wow man, can you relate?” Weird Al Yankovic asked this in his song “I’ll be mellow when I’m dead.” The answer is: you are able to relate but most don’t.
Apparently and according to most recent research, empathy is a quality innate to most humans (I assume sociopaths are excluded). I find this interesting based on how our society works and the fact that Donald Trump has followers.
Mirror neurons are activated when a person observes or helps someone else in pain. The person not in pain is able to imagine what the other person is going through simply by investing in the moment on an emotional level. This sort of activation relies upon mindfulness and relational awareness. If empathy is innate, then mindfulness and relational awareness must also be innate.
We are a culture built around individualism and lone wolf success stories and dreams. We rally around single rock stars and icons, enjoying the fantasy created around them. There is nothing wrong with this if tempered with reality and yes, empathy.
There is a lack of empathy which is scary. It’s scary because life and other people beat empathy and mirror neurons into a coma. Sometimes money or position creates the illusion that one is separate and better than others thus blocking mirror neuron capacity. The good thing is those lacking empathy can relearn it by engaging in mental exercises and slowing down to remember other people (and animals) share the world. We remember this by interacting with others and working not to hate them. It’s not always easy.
A few recent events that signify a lack of social empathy and relational awareness include the aged attitude toward Mexican immigrants, legal or not; the spewed hatred toward the Syrian refugees; the allowance of lead poison in Detroit water. Somehow these and other human issues have been reduced to political issues. What does it say about our society that we cannot grasp that these people are leaving everything they know, risking their lives, to find a better way? We can’t even imagine what they are leaving and we won’t try because we don’t have to but why do we cross over and dehumanize these people in our media and political campaigns? Empathy is natural to us, why don’t we act like it when it matters?
Are we so closed off from one another that we can’t even take a moment to relate? I’d say yes based on crucifixions, religious wars, slavery, racism and ongoing need to separate from one another through political party, class, culture and religion. We find safety and power in our groups and we may even empathize (selective empathy?) with the people in our safe groups, but we’re capable of so much more. We are empowered with so much more ability and kindness than we exercise.
The presidential election approaches and as usual I save myself for the final debates between the party candidates. I find politics mind numbing and time-wasting but necessary. I feel it’s my responsibility to the suffragists to cast my vote. I don’t know if it matters. What does matter is Donald Trump and his lack of social awareness and empathy. I hear so many jokes about his behavior and I wonder: has our society dipped this low or has the position of president lost the esteem it once had? The truth is, none of our presidents were perfect or even likable or good in some cases, but what is happening to our system? Shouldn’t the system and the leaders be improving?
I avoid the news but I had to look at some of the things Trump says. He’s so outrageous, calloused and clueless that I thought, “Maybe he’s doing this because he can and he’s going to show the citizens that it’s true, people with money can do anything they damn well please and it’s a broken part of our system.” In other words, I thought he might be on a quest to teach us something. [Can we learn it before Kanye runs in four years? Kanye who with Kim Kardashian completed a full arc around Amy Schumer who fell on the red carpet as a joke (unknown to the Wests) instead of stopping to see if the fallen woman was okay. ]
After browsing the following link http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/stories/5187/23-ridiculously-offensive-donald-trump-quotes I realized that beyond any doubt Donald Trump lacks a very basic quality. His mirror neurons are definitely comatose if not fried. What’s more outrageous than his crap is that he has followers and this is of concern. Hitler had followers if I interpreted the chapter on World War II correctly.
Read more at http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/550112/donald-trump-quotes.html#wEJZlVIjRy7YjVG3.99
At this stage in the game, given our history and propensity to repeat the bad stuff, I think it’s time for each person to call upon his mirror neurons. Having empathy does not translate to open borders or help for immigrants over citizens. Having empathy isn’t political agendas. I really believe we are meant to help one another per nature’s design hence the innate quality of empathy that we keep beating away. (Ironically, I cannot empathize with Donald Trump so we’ll visit hypocrisy in my next editorial.)
I simply cannot believe Donald Trump has fans from any party, culture, religion, race or species. He should be locked away with his $4.5 billion dollars and forced to relearn empathy or at the very least fix his hair and read a book. Think of all the good he might do if he had empathy. Think of all the good each of us can do if we empathize instead of hate, regardless of political party.
Murphy, B.C. & Dillon, C. (2015) Interviewing in Action in a Multicultural World. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.