I remember it distinctly, that day I knew I was an empath.
But let me back up. I hate how overused the word is. And yet, there’s no better description for those who can tune in to the emotional experience of another. Or of a place or thing. Empaths are highly aware, intuitive and they can be emotional.
I knew that I was all those things but didn’t realize there was a name for it until maybe a year ago. Yes, living under a rock. Nonetheless, this is about the day I knew I was an empath.
Popcorn, soda and…violence
Hubby, friends and I went to a movie I didn’t know much about. We weren’t that far into it when I realized how violent it was. Squirming in my plush theatre seat, I hoped that scene would end soon. It did. But another, even more violent scene took its place.
By the time the main character decided to feed another person into a meat grinder, and the audience thought it was hilarious, I was so distressed I got up and left. My companions stayed.
Out in the lobby I texted a couple of friends including a psychologist I know. Those text conversations helped me see that I wasn’t being over-sensitive, just empathetic.
Are we now immune?
Our society has become immune to violence, I fear. It’s a huge part of all entertainment, from music to film to TV to video and online games. Didn’t used to be so graphic. Watch a movie from 25 to 50 years ago: it wasn’t necessary to show the viewer the blood and gore that’s standard movie fare now. The viewer got the point without having to show carnage in living color and in detail.
I can’t help but believe that the carnage that’s routinely part of entertainment content today promotes a culture of violence–and impacts those gun massacres that have also become standard today. I wonder how real the impact of gun violence is to young men raised in our culture of violence. Does it feel like a game? A movie?
Every single time I see TV coverage of a new act of mass murder I get emotional and teary. I feel for the young mom who lost her little boy. The grandkids whose beloved Bubby was gunned down at synagogue. The couple whose dreams were destroyed by a barrage of gunfire. I feel their pain as much as someone on the outside can. I feel it strongly.
Have we lost the ability to feel?
I won’t apologize for it, either. Too many of us have lost the ability to feel and I’m glad that I have not.
This has to stop, this violence. I remember people laughed at Tipper Gore as a “Goody Two-Shoes” when she wanted to limit the sex and violence in music. She was on to something, though. It’s not that I want censorship. But when purveyors of entertainment are irresponsible, then I am all for some limits.
Answers are beginning to percolate in my head. In the past I’d say that I didn’t have the answers, but I think that now I do have some. And I wonder why it’s such an uphill slog to make any positive impact on our society today. How special interests got so much power and how our lawmakers gave up so much for power and position.
And how they could be so willing to give up our lives and those of our children for their own gain.
I try to hold on to hope, even at the darkest times. But it’s difficult.
These are the things I think about when I remember that day in the movie theatre when I realized I was an empath.
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