In one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series’ villains construct a creature called “The Judge” to burn the humanity from people, rendering the Earth free for the demons to roam. (Yes, I am a total nerd when it comes to teenage super females.) While I never thought the story's plotline would ever become an actual concern in the real world, it seems like people are slowly losing their humanity as time passes.
Let me explain. Remember when the 9/11 attacks took place and how tightly we clung to each other? We went out of our way to assure people they weren’t alone. Cut to twenty-ish years later, amid a global pandemic, people are fist-fighting over toilet paper and paper towels.
Where Did the Love Go?
We used to be really good at recognizing when other people were going through something difficult, but it seems like we are losing that ability. Are we entering an age where everybody cares only about themselves?
Look, I hate generalizations, so I will not say this lack of empathy and caring is happening to everyone. However, it sure does seem like more people care less about their fellow earthlings.
Fortunately, I have seen tremendous examples that compassion still exists in some people. For instance, a woman I work with had a traumatic episode with one of her children, and my colleagues rallied to support her. They bombarded her with texts sharing encouraging words and prayers for her little one.
However, after another woman at work hurt her back, she overheard two supervisors saying they were sure she was faking the injury.
I am not saying I am “Miss Susie Sunshine” all the time. As I’ve shared in past articles, I tend to be a bit…prickly. But I have spent all my adult life being able to feel what others are feeling. Often, I can see someone is about to break just by looking at their face. As a teenager, I did not know how to protect myself from taking on the emotions of others, and the experience made me a bit sour. As an adult, I have learned to set boundaries so that it doesn’t consume me.
Still, the lack of basic human compassion I am seeing in the world does affect me. The other day, I stopped at a gas station to get cash from the ATM. As I walked in, a young mother was standing outside the store explaining to her two little ones that they were getting milk and nothing more. She told them she could not afford to buy them a small treat.
Another woman entering the store slammed into the mom and rudely asked her to move. I saw the young mama tear up, and I could tell she was having a rough day. While I was at the ATM, I pulled an additional $20 from my account, handed it to her, and told her to buy the kids whatever they wanted.
I am not telling you this story to pat myself on the back. I’m telling you because it warmed MY heart to be able to do something for someone else — and it was SO easy to do. The mom sobbed, hugged me, and asked if I wanted change from whatever she purchased. She also walked her children to me at the register, and they each thanked me and showed me what they were getting.
Bring It Back
We all have the power to make life brighter for someone else. Recognize the struggle in others. Or hell, if you recognize it in yourself, do NOT poison the rest of the world with bitterness or retaliation. In recovery groups, they tell you to fake it ‘til you make it. I have discovered that faking a smile or chuckling at something, even if only mildly funny, will occasionally bring a real smile to your face.
I beg of you, my fellow humans, bring back humanity. Bring back the love for other people and yourself. Show your softer side every once in a while.