I guess I used to sort of pride myself with being apathetic toward life. I didn't care much about anything, except for myself and my problems, for a very long time. I've hurt a lot of people. I've disappointed a lot of others. I have hurt and disappointed myself.
But then, there is a turning point, when "I" isn't as important as "WE," or "THEM," or "US," anymore. There are still struggles, daily, with trying to get away from "I." Our lives transform over the years into something bigger than we can control, and sometimes bigger than what we can handle, or accept, but suddenly, one day, we realize that "I" am not the center of it all, and empathy starts to overcome apathy.
My kids have helped in this transformation of completely selfish to a little more selfless. Empathy is easier when you care about something bigger, and better, and brighter than "I." My husband has taught me more about love and life in the last five years than I thought my heart was capable of feeling. And, over time, my apathy has diminished and has morphed into more than "I," and what affects "ME." The choice to put others in front of our own wants and needs is not easy, but over the course of the years I have found that caring for and about others is more satisfying than satisfying my own selfish desires. Still, sometimes, the "I" in "ME," gets the better of "ME," and I slip up and do something stupid that could have easily been avoided if I just focused and mindfully thought for a moment about how "MY" actions affect "OTHERS."
A lot of this is just stepping up and taking personal responsibility for our words, actions, even our thoughts. A lot of it is just common decency. I have seen a lot of people making very disparaging comments about other religions, other points of view, other feelings and thoughts, in the aftermath of yet another senseless act in Paris this week. Is it worth it to alienate even an acquaintance in order to be heard on an issue that we were not physically present for, or even have the capability of comprehending at the moment? The things that motivate one person may devalue another, strip another of their dignity, of their basic human rights. How do we deal with this? How do we react? Do we cry out in outrage? Do we retaliate? Can we put ourselves in another person's shoes, even if that person has been motivated by hate, to try and understand why something that seems so senseless to some seems imperative to others? I feel that asking certain people to try and look beyond their view point is frowned upon and offense is taken almost immediately because to do so would conflict with their personal beliefs or values. And, it is hard to see what could make another person feel so much hatred, with so much intensity, that they would not only take the lives of complete strangers, but also their own. It's hard to put yourself in the place of a mother that just lost a child, or a child who just lost a father, or a friend who is now without someone they knew since childhood. It's hard because it hurts to think of losing that in our own lives, and sometimes it's easier to ignore that this exists and is real for someone else because our focus is solely on "I."
I'm not trying to get all Breakfast Club on everyone here. I am not a bleeding heart, I'm not a conservative, I'm not a liberal, I'm not a Christian, I'm not a Muslim. I'm not a Jew. I'm a human being. And, as a human, my heart hurts for humanity. It hurts for all of the senseless deaths that can not be understood right now. In Paris, and in my current personal day to day life. MY heart hurts for all of US as HUMANS. This post is not a cry for sympathy on anyone's behalf except for all of us as a whole. People are so eager to separate themselves from others, defining themselves by class, race, religion, or ideals, when we could all be making a bigger effort to connect on a human level, even in some small way. Paris is a drop in the bucket, and as so many people have pointed out in the last few days, there are so many deaths that we have not heard a single reported peep about because some people feel that those deaths are justified, or necessary retaliation to prove a point or stand our ground. I can't say for sure what the right or appropriate actions or answers are in this, or any one of the thousands of situations that have occurred over the course of recorded history, but it hurts to know people want to hurt others, for any reason. And, over the years, I've realized that not only is apathy a sickness, a highly contagious collective disease, but it is easily cured if our focus can remain trained on a wider focus than "I."