Thursday, February 9, 2017

Empathy and Compassion Are So 1965

It is obvious that emotions and states of mind come and go like hemlines, hairstyles and homophobia. Fear, anger and stupidity are the new black. This hit me while the Beatles tune Nowhere Man ran through my mind (recorded in October of 1965).

Lennon, who wrote the song claimed it came to him when he felt low and defeated. “I'd spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down.” This wasn’t about rockers looking down on middle class, aimless wage slaves wondering fruitlessly to the grave. It came from a place of empathy. His heart went out to those who struggled and found themselves nowhere. Odds are, he was also drifting in a smoky haze, but that’s beside the point.

Being civil didn’t start in the 60s, of course. Some would say it ended there – at least by the late 60s. The common theme for every character Jimmy Stuart ever played was empathy and compassion. It used to be when we went to war that the people at home sacrificed and grew victory gardens remembering those who they put in harm’s way. The most important thing in every war was to end it as quickly as possible. Now, we’re encouraged to binge shop. It’s patriotic.

And that’s where we find the motive for the murder. Empathy and compassion didn’t die of natural causes. They were strangled so that the masses could be more easily manipulated into sending the poor to war; manipulated into bombing random countries for the profit of the rich. Hemlines go up and down so that people will buy new clothes. Empathy and compassion went out of style so that the rich could more easily justify the slaughter that makes them richer.

Of course, I’m not the first to notice this. What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding, after all?