I think a closer look at the social implications of a “lack of heart”, or Apathy towards the plight of others should be the first subject discussed in this installment.
As I mentioned in an earlier part of this article mini-series, Apathy is the lack of feeling or “empathy” towards the plight and/or suffering of others. Life is a constant challenge where we are constantly faced with crises, loss, and other such misfortunes. Life is also about beauty, joy, love, and all the other qualities we would like to think of as favorable. Life just IS what it is. I like to consider it as a “school” for the Soul and Being. Life is very temporary and transitory with respect to the grandness of “eternity” and so on. It is that time in which we choose how to use it and what to use towards.
One of the crucial lessons of Life, as far as social creatures (gregarious creatures – those who have the tendency to form close-knit groups and social hierarchies) are concerned, is that in order to have a better guarantee at coexisting with others, peacefully, and to have that greater sense of security (in numbers), we would be inclined to behave in a fashion that is more conducive to acceptance within the group or community. With most gregarious species, their individual survival has become dependent upon the collective security of the group. This also includes defending each other, defending the families of others’ as well as one’s own family, defending the territory of the group’s, defending the limited food supplies – if that were to be the case. What is sensed as a threat to the whole group, the whole group responds to that threat. What is viewed as a threat to one within the group, is viewed as a threat to the group. THERE is the basis of empathy, if the group is also able to recognize the existing threat through a “shared feeling” (usually of fear or apprehension).
If a member of the group is hurt by the foe, this is also the cause of a group reaction. In, some cases and some species, the group may react by charging at or attempting surround or return the threatening gestures towards the foe. Others may, instead, flee to safety. (Examples of “fight or flight” responses.) These responses are usually triggered by the “shared feeling” of those fears, apprehensions, etc. These are often communicated by very subtle signals, gestures, and even silently-communicated (where no visible or perceptible sign is given or perceived). Either way, some form of empathy is at work here. It is a vital ability of sensing those “vibrations” that may mean the difference between life and death for the individual(s) and/or the group. This empathy may also be at play when one member is over-stepping his/her “authority” within the established “pecking order” within the group. – After all, “no one likes a trouble-maker” in their midst.
The power of Empathy also aids in building and maintaining strong bonds amongst one another.
As I previously mentioned, the feeling of being secure within the group as a member of that group is a very important feeling. The need for that sense of security is filled while a functioning member within that group. Certain personal aspects, expressions, etc. may be somewhat subdued while in the presence within the group because of the trade-offs between being as part of a group or community, as opposed to being solitary. One of the important adaptations within the Being, as a member within the group, is the ability and openness to sharing in the general emotional state of the group. Many of the “unseen cues” come from this silent form of communication, which many of us often take for granted, or do not even consciously notice.
If there to be a “communications breakdown” of the sharing of Empathy, the group would eventually dissolve and fall apart. The common bond that existed, would no longer be a cohesive bond that held the group together out of a common interest. Members of the group could and would be killed off, one by one, and there would never be communicated the call for defending the group and/or those who were being attacked. Life would seem to be valued much less, in such a group setting. This would also greatly reduce the survivability of the species which became dependent on the “safety in numbers” social form. Unless such a species had the means and ability to rapidly evolve, psychologically and emotionally, its survival would be great diminished to the point of extinction.
The survival of the Human Being depends on a common feeling of defending the common good from ALL threats against its survival.
Aside from the usual threats to human survival like, other predators, natural disasters, diseases and sicknesses, and the like, one of the most common threats to human existence comes from the predation by other human beings. These human threats take on the shape as adversaries who would levy wars, destroy homes, crop fields, thoroughfares, and other necessary contrivances for the local population(s). With the development of “civilized societies” and their hierarchies, there also arose the specter of rivalries, internal competition for power, political intrigue, and the various ills that history has so well documented of human societies (namely, empires, fiefdoms, monarchies, etc. – “Feudal Systems”). These types of “top-down” political systems, over time, nearly always devolve into predatory, self-destructive systems of control – where the control is exerted over the populace, regardless of the consequences toward the controlled. Many injustices and other horrific acts have been and are committed against those who feel the pinch of power upon them and try to defend against it. Others are surely able to witness many of these injustices committed against one of their own, yet seem to do absolutely nothing! Why??? Why is it so easy, to let pass the suffering of another, even though the victim may not have been the reason for inciting this kind of action upon him/her, in the first place? One of the most common reasons why, APATHY.
When it is so easy to have a disinterest in helping others who are unnecessarily suffering, or are facing an inhuman-burden being placed upon them – by the political system, staffed with other “human beings” who are no better, and no lesser – That individual observer is, in fact, Apathetic. It would also be correct to say that said disinterested witness is also unsympathetic to the plight of the unfortunate. There are prime examples of the lack of sympathy and lack of empathy among many human beings, as the list of live examples grows day-by-day. This is a very disturbing trend as it also shows of a lack of interest in the survivability of the human race. Any human society who chooses to suffer its fools in power, is a society of human beings that is doomed to failure, and doomed to die out – by its own hand. The role of empathy has slowly been forced to “take a back seat” through the constant conditioning of the human populace into thinking purely of the “system” itself, rather than the human participants (as equals) that make it work. In giving this created “system” a life of its own, the people have given such great power, wielded in the hands of the very few, with accountability, and without any compassion from empathy. Remember as it was earlier stated, “Without empathy, Compassion does not even enter into the equation.” Compassion is just not possible without the Heart-Power of Empathy – The willingness to acknowledge the plight of another through the shared feelings with the unfortunate who is suffering that plight. Also needed for the exercise of actions from Compassion, also a Heart-Power – is Love for one another.
One of the most powerful of the Powers of the Heart.
Though Love is often one of the most-written about, sung about, and described through paintings, poetry, music, word-play of any sort, it is still one of the toughest aspects of Being to describe in words and speech. I simple word, to an emotional state that we take for granted, and has many different forms and expressions for the many different types of relationships one is to encounter. Yet, Love is also ranked as one of the most powerful of the emotional states, and a primary mover to so many, to do some many different things. Love is said to be more than just an emotional state or condition. It is said to a unique Power, all its own. It is capable of healing, and it is capable of killing. It is capable of creating some of the most beautiful and awesome works. It is also capable of some of the most fearsome and total of destruction. It is a very powerful Heart-Power that if misused, can leave behind much long-lasting misery. Yet, Love is a necessary for the healthy life of most beings who can experience it naturally. It is quite possible, and has in fact happened, that one can die from a “lack of Love”. (Sometimes referred to as: “Dying of a Broken Heart”.)
In this installment, I gave a fairly brief and probably somewhat simplistic view of the social implications of the lack of empathy.
Our lives are a constant stream of day-today challenges that help to teach us all about life’s lessons. Some of those lessons are fairly straightforward and fairly “academic”. Some of those lesson may have more serious implications to us if fail to learn them at their appropriate time(s). Some of those lessons are so vital that our very survival may depend on whether we learn to properly use the tools we are given to the best of their usefulness or not. Some of those lessons we learn from being around others within our community, and learn by example. What we all should learn, though, is that by our social nature and our tendency to be somewhat dependent on one another, we also need to learn that what one danger that can befall another, can just as easily befall ourselves. If we have one of our members of our community, being unduly threatened by an external force, group, or organization that can potentially threaten us all, we have the basis for a common defense of our community. It is not something that any “laws” can easily nor efficaciously apply through force. It is that aspect of a willingness and desire to protect ourselves, as well as our community, from those external threats that we should have the power to discern on our own. It is that quality of empathy that insures that we have a common interest in our collective defense. If we are to witness the unfortunate actions befall others through no fault of their own, then maybe it is also fortunate that we have witnessed such acts and feel compelled to act in the defense of the unfortunate victim(s). THAT is a sure sign of Empathy. It is also a sure sign of Brotherly and/or Sisterly Love.
The next installment will cover Empathy and the other Powers of the Heart in their role of communicating with different species.
“Listening with the Heart” becomes a key skill and very valuable ability in the realms and practices of such healing arts as Shamanism, and other forms and expressions of “Spirit Work”. Because I did not get around to discussing some basic exercises in this installment, the next installment shall see them published there. This mini-series of, “The Power of the Heart. A Gift from God”, has been completely an inspiration of mine. A portion of this work has been “channeled” as I have been typing. So much of it may seem a bit “out there”, but please do not worry. The language of spirit and the perception we each have, may show some differences as opposed to the “officially accepted” or “venerated” sources for information like this. Take what you can use as you will, and leave behind that which does not work for you.
Rev. Jim (Dragon’s Eye)
Founder, Temple of The Ancient Dragons