Hateful, Horrible, And How To Help
How often do acts of hatefulness distress you? Do they shock you?
It seems there is always another angle to such stories that upset us. But what can be done with such ugliness?
Layer upon layer, over and over, accounts of cruelty and violence keep happening. So often, it is the frail and the innocent who are most at risk. Inevitably, predatory people pick the targets of least resistance.
Being constantly told about incidents of hideous behavior is wearing. So much so that their cumulative effect can be an unutterable burden.
That is why it is understandable that people feel overwhelmed by tragedies. Being overcome is not so much a failing but a natural response to the terrible nature of hateful behavior. So if you sometimes drift toward despair over some unspeakable calamity that is actually entirely justifiable.
Indifference, on the other hand, is hardly heroic (being more of a silent coping mechanism than a brave achievement). To feel pain for others reflects healthy empathy.
So is that it? Is simply feel sorry for people the answer? Hardly. Whenever you see shabby activity and selfishness, your tools need to be practical. If something disturbs you, go ahead and do something in response that affirms someone else.
It doesn’t have to be to the same people being mistreated (though of course it can). The important thing is to follow up your understandable distress with measurable action.
Why is this critical? Well, when we feel pain but fail to do something about it, we are teaching ourselves to be helpless, indifferent, and even cynical.
Pro-social as they your deeds can be, serving others with compassion is really about you. Strengthening your mental health through doing good beats pills, therapy, and slew of other self-focused measures (though, if you happen to be using these, please follow your health professional’s advice).
The point is you and I have power. Not the might to defend nations, change the course of mighty rivers, or bend steel with your bare hands (thanks, Superman). But we do have the clout to improve the lot of someone. They may be next door, part of your family, or somewhere else quite close.
The pivotal point is: caring until it hurts is not dysfunctional, and the best way we can process that pain is by doing positive things for others. Whatever your perceived deficits, you are an effective person. If you can think, you can do.
So now, you have an answer to the hateful and the horrible. You can act with compassion, making your kindness and practical acts an expression of your care. Right now – somewhere – somebody really needs you. And, funnily enough, them needing you is exactly what you need too.
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