This could be seen as the sequel to my previous post (The Loss of Innocence). However, be forewarned that it shows a more cynical, less understanding side of my nature. There are aspects of human behavior that I cannot – or will not – understand or condone.
I’ve always seen myself as an optimist. I tend to believe in a core of good in all human nature. As a counselor, people came to me who were damaged and fragile because of the circumstances surrounding their lives. They were motivated to find solutions and heal their wounds. Even when they were responsible for causing pain to others, I could find a spark of goodness and the will to change. I learned to accept their way of viewing the world without necessarily accepting their deeds.
This is an important point of view for people who are committed to supporting others. However, after closing the doors of my counseling practice, I was forced to admit that for each individual seeking support, there are hundreds of individuals who aren’t… and who really don’t care. A large portion of humankind (larger than I care to admit) is selfish, greedy, resistant to learning, or downright cruel.
In the course of my life I have made friends, as we all do, and sometimes I thought I had a deep and true friendship with someone. What a disillusionment to discover that, once I was no longer making use of their services or supporting them in some way, they would vanish out of my life and I would never hear from them again. I’m sorry to say that this happened most frequently in the more spiritual circles I’ve inhabited. If this is the true meaning of “Be the change you want to see in the world,” I’d hate to see what the world might become.
I was always taught, and I taught my children in turn, to forgive stupidity. Not everyone grows up in the privileged circumstances we did. It has, however, become more and more obvious to me that there are masses of people who willfully remain ignorant (blissful innocence?). Even to the point that we still see people denying that the earth is round and that life is an evolutionary process. The most recent political developments in the United States have shown us that these groups aren’t powerless. However, they are standing in the way of a solution to Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. These are moments that I wonder if humankind isn’t just another race of dinosaurs that needs to be wiped out in order to let life on Earth evolve to the next stage.
Political forces, always obeying their own rules, oblivious to individual wisdom, prevent true solutions. I was heartbroken to see the plight of Red Deer, trapped behind a high fence in the Amsterdam Dune Reserves. They multiply until there are too many to be sustainable. They destroy the landscape, eating all the vegetation and killing off the trees by eating their bark. And still, they are starving. The landscape is dying, and they are dying. A solution could be to let them loose to roam the way the Roe Deer roam in the same part of the country. But they cause car accidents and eat tulip bulbs (a major Dutch industry) and are generally inconvenient. So shooting them off until there are enough to ‘manage’ has been adopted as the most ‘expedient’ solution.
And then there is downright, incomprehensible, cruelty. A photographer friend recently told me this chilling story: She was in a nature reserve, sitting on the ground, happily photographing toadstools on a fallen tree trunk. A couple with a young child approached her. She only noticed them when they stopped to look at her. She looked up and caught the eye of the man. He looked back without saying anything. As she watched, he slowly raised his foot and scraped all the toadstools off the tree trunk with his boot. He then turned and moved on with his family, leaving my friend behind, deeply shocked.
We can endlessly discuss the why’s and wherefores’. Is it genetics? Is it society’s fault? Are these all injured children? The truth is – and I find myself more willing to admit it the older I get – that there is greed, stupidity, selfishness, and cruelty in the world. It doesn’t matter how it got there. Maybe, if we are willing to admit this and admit our part in this, we can find a way forward.