I am trying to get a better grip on my own empathy. I have been narcissistic and self-centered in the past and I am trying to move past that because I have come to a realization. We are finished, as a species, if we cannot look at each other and realize that we are looking at other beings with similar thoughts, needs, and desires as ourselves. To realize that and to really grasp the fact that we need to be better than we are if we are going to survive is crucial.
I was recently listening to an interview with author Steve Almond, where he described giving a commencement address to a group of people my age who had mostly adopted a “body culture,” as he put it, and was representative of a society that placed little emphasis on existential thought or self-reflection.
I largely agreed with his position that the reality television that so many adolescents grow up is creating a generation that is becoming overly self-involved, narcisstic, and even confrontational, where people view one another as potential rivals, rather than potential friends.
My generation’s children and grandchildren are going to be in deep shit if this does not change. We have created comfortable walls around ourselves so that we really don’t have to think about the world’s problem. Reality television may have come along for other reasons, but now it is something that encourages people to insulate themselves from one another and from the world. It allows people to adopt selfish personas that are not necessarily self-reflective but do allow them to feel important and avoid human suffering and large-scale, global issues, like climate change.
What is required here is willingness from everyone to both look inside themselves and into the people around them, to see the hope, fear, and potential there. Then, maybe, hopefully, realize that there are bigger issues than what we see on TV. These are the issues that must be dealt with if our species is to be worthy and able to survive.