Obnoxious Indifference


I’m not feeling compassion for humanity these days. In this season of giving, I just want to give people a shove out of my way.

I’m not sure how I got here. Five years ago, I was so overwhelmed with the needs of the world that I would cry through most of Morning Edition on NPR. I felt the weight of how much I had compared to most of the world. And challenged myself to give more.

And I did.

In the interim years, I didn’t cry as much, but I pushed myself to give more money and time away. I just had less guilt associated with it.

But lately, I haven’t been able to conjure up this compassion. I don’t see people as hurting and fearful and wounded. In my head, I know that people deserve gentle consideration. But my heart feels hard. Or maybe my heart knows the truth, but my head won’t let go. I only know that I find it uncomfortable and familiar.

Over the last six months, I’ve been hurt by people in unexpected ways. I worry that I’m closing myself off to many because of a few. I hate to think of myself as giving anyone that much power in my life — a change my beliefs and values because of another person’s actions or inactions infuriates me.

But I can’t shake seeing people as threats. Threats to my serenity and peace.  People yell and don’t call and push and hurt. And I want to punch them in the face and say: YOU SUCK. And I have. Well, not so much the punching part, but the waving my fist angrily in the air. And passive aggressive twittering.

Once upon a time, I lived this hardness constantly.

When I was sixteen, something terribly sad happened to my boyfriend. And I couldn’t cry. I should have been. But I could only sit there.

It was the first time that I thought: Perhaps my way of dealing with the world wasn’t working.

And although I continued to see people as usable and ugly for years after that night, a seed had been planted: Being hard wasn’t living life. The older I got, the more I had to acknowledge how alike we are. And how much we deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

And even if we don’t deserve it, I don’t want to be a person who makes others earn my kindness. Or owe me gratitude. Even if the people around me are awful, I would rather have my heart broken a thousand times than be hardened to my fellow humans.

But I feel hard now. I’m not as far gone as I once was. I’m still reacting and crying and hurting, but I just don’t care as much as I would like.  Or I don’t want to care as much as I would like.

I feel disappointed and confused.

I feel unappreciated.

Misunderstood.

No one seems to care enough. And now I’m that no one.

Of course, I know my answer. I will act as if I care until I can care again.

I will give to charities. I will not flick people off. I will censor this side of me.

Because I’m not interested in hurting people.

I might be good at meanness. I might make it sound funny. Or hip.

But it’s not who I am or want to be.

So I wait.

Wishing I could love as much as you deserve.

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