As I sat down to attempt a viewing of Django for the third time, promptly pressing the stop button as the display pictured an innocent black man being ripped to shreds by dogs, my empathy got the best of me and I felt the wave of disgust fill my stomach. The realistic violence of the scene caused me to step back and wonder, yet again, what the appeal of these visuals could be. Along with what it says about our progressing society that even an elderly woman in her 80’s would consider graphically depicted movies to be “too slow.” The true problem, however, and the one that makes my skin crawl and stomach ache, is the detachment from our hearts being played out in front of our day to day lives with each other as an every day, normal occurrence.
The list of classic movies have downgraded exponentially; our minds centered around shock value and excitement with no discerning thought to the moral bankruptcy coupling our “progressing” humanity. We are failing.
It starts with the way we drive, to how we speak towards cashiers and servers, to the judgments we make towards “fat” and “ugly” strangers on the street. It’s that all encompassing attitude that somehow we are better, and the eye contact we make with an elderly woman at a bus stop is, most certainly, the highlight of her whole life. It’s the solitude and isolating attitude that perpetuated the hatred involved in slavery– denying the rights of others simply because we can; telling someone with mental illness to “man-up” because if something is easy for us then it must be simple for everyone else. It’s deciding whether or not someone is deserving of healthcare based solely on monetary status. And while I don’t profess to have all the answers, I do, at least, acknowledge there is a problem darkening the quality of life of millions of people on this earth.
This problem isn’t religious, nor is it political, but an anti-human virus that is plaguing all of our hearts– mine, yours and the clerk at 7-11. The very fundamentals of love and compassion are crumbling beneath our feet with every middle finger we flip at a passing car, every insult we hurl towards someone in line at McDonald’s and every homeless person we step past on the street, glaring with disgust and muttering sentiments of “getting a job” in their direction. Our interest in each other has severely declined with the higher wages we seek and the more advanced technology we acquire. With every step forward, the link between us in our humanity snaps and breaks that much more.
And now we don’t know who our neighbors are; now if someone on the street was being robbed we would turn a blind eye as if it’s none of our business. We preach against abortions while hundreds of thousands of children rot away in tortured foster homes– in a system that doesn’t give a damn about them. We cut in line, we spread our hatred like wildfire, all the while building feel-good systems of slacktivism without having to actually lift a finger and do something positive and productive with our time and energy.
While these sentiments can cause distraught in the hearts of many, I still firmly believe in love; and with that love comes a strength greater than any outside force imaginable. It’s the force that powers us to smile at passing strangers, to hold open doors and make small talk with the old man waiting for his train; it’s the force that can push two people from opposite sides of the world together for a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment. It comes with a price, and that price is putting our hands up to ego and shoving back against the societal norm of ignorance and blindness.
Greet the new neighbors that just moved in across the street, strive to make true connections to the people around you and believe in the faith that acceptance starts within yourself. The answer to life is not in work, or responsibility; it’s not in the objects we acquire or the self-serving atmospheres we create. The answer to life is in each other. It is in people; it is in laughter and tears; it is in holding a stranger’s hand and learning everything you can about their journey.
There is no fear that can disrupt me when my heart is completely open; when people are invited and accepted with open arms and loving souls. I will never be in poverty, nor at the hands of an ill mind; death does not quake me as my priority is humanity.
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