Life seems a bit deadly as of late. The media keeps in varying degree churning out reports about deceased human beings across the globe. The amount of news coverage for a specific item is – as always – based on the novelty, proximity, number, and provenance of the dead, multiplied by human empathy tickle factor.
Death is the great leveller. No-one knows when, or how, or why they will die. It is going to happen, though. No-one will be spared.
It makes us human to feel with the deceased. This is because we know we will follow them one day. Hence, we celebrate what they had been, and mourn what can be no more. We shed a tear, and feel a bit funny.
Our compassion is not just for anyone, though. Hurting with the dead is reserved for those we feel we can relate to. The more we relate, and the more connected we feel, the more likely we are to empathise with the demise our fellow human companions. Otherwise, we don’t really care.
The connection is based on self-identification. If we see ourselves as Western White, say, then it is only natural we’d be primarily interested in other Western Whites; our own kind. Our capacity for selective compassion is reflected, if not magnified, by the media that we choose to consume. Many among us select our information based on our personal frame of reference to reinforce our own beliefs and views. As a consequence, most everything we see is a slightly polished mirror image of ourselves.
When famous people die – by their own hand or otherwise – the compassion they receive seems, on the surface, to be disproportionate to their factual presence in our lives. We never knew them, after all. They certainly never knew us to understand how their death would make us hurt.
Famous deaths are easy to feel bad about. When our heroes come down to die like everyone else they finally, truly touch us. We don’t feel compassion only for them, but ourselves. We anticipate our own impending end in theirs.
The amount of attention we want certain type people to get leaves us little room to feel for everyone and their aunt dying around us. Beyond our intimate circle, death of the common other usually only touches us insofar the novelty value acutely rises above their everyday misery. It’s a tough line to break if the other lives in distant Disasterstan, where folks are commonly known to drop like flies.
It’s not that we don’t care about those people and their deaths. We just don’t care that much. We feel somewhat obliged to read about their wars, famines, diseases, and natural disasters, though. We count the anonymous dead, and take a mental note. Perhaps we will feel a bit funny. Then we turn the page back onto ourselves, and our own impending end. That’s what makes us human.
The world is full of bucket lists. These are articles that tell you how to max out on your life should you be diagnosed with terminal cancer. Being told you’re going to die ain’t fun, so you’d better make the most of the current event before you hit the bucket. Read the rest of this entry »
Word has it men don’t like yoga. This is no wonder. Yoga commonly occurs as part of a mind-boggling lifestyle that encompasses breathing, a nutrient-filled diet, and detoxifying cleanses to lift the tired spirit to another level. It represents many a thing an average man doesn’t wish to become associated with: tight outfits, vegetables, the downward dog. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently spent a week in Finland in November. The trip from Sun-scorched Sydney took a total of 22 hours and some eight or nine time zones. I spent the time comfortably stretched out over several seats in an almost empty airliner. I abused the complimentary drinks while watching a documentary about a mad British rock legend that made me snort and giggle. I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later with a sore head, feeling sorry for myself. Then it was time for the next almost empty airliner.
There are two types people on this planet: fat people and not-fat people. While these two may, at the first sight, appear to be mutually exclusive, they exist on a spectrum. It is entirely possible to travel from one end to the other, but it bears to note that this system is asymmetrical. It is much more common for a not-fat individual to trespass the gates to the land of lard than for a fat person to spontaneously turn into a shriveled-up shrimp. Why this should be the case is a mystery of the 21st century. Read the rest of this entry »
People love to communicate. We express ourselves to our surroundings in words and gestures, and we expect others to reciprocate. This is because humans evolved in small tribes where sharing data and making oneself known with everyone was crucial for survival. If you didn’t smile and grunt to Og, he might have taken you for an enemy. Read the rest of this entry »