Revolutionary Empathy


Anthropomorphic scarecrow Ann Coulter makes her living by being publicly and gleefully abhorrent. But her hate-cred took a potentially fatal hit this week with one simple revelatory tweet.

On Friday, in response to Senator Marco Rubio’s insistence that the child tax credit in the GOP tax bill be expanded, she released the following statement into the Twittersphere:

We singles live empty lives of quiet desperation and will die alone. Now Rubio is demanding that we also fund happy families with children who fill their days with joy.

Boo-fucking-hoo, you anorexic Gorgon. Too little, too late with the inadvertent humanity that finally found expression in the only honest, albeit whiny and self-pitying public statement you’ve ever made. But I didn’t commence this post for the purpose of taking easy potshots at Ms. Coulter. I am writing this as a reminder to myself and others that no matter how hidden someone’s humanity may be, suffering is always at the root of expressions of bigotry and hatred. This oftentimes subconscious suffering can take many forms: loneliness, self-loathing, insecurity, perceived emasculation, doubt, fear, ennui, etc. Of course, we all feel such existentially uncomfortable emotions from time to time, but those of us who choose to analyze and work through our personal neuroses generally find ourselves reasonably capable of peaceful coexistence with our fellow travelers. Perhaps instead of viewing our comparatively well-nurtured acceptance of human diversity as a virtue, we should see it as a blessing — a fortunate genetic (or even karmic, if that’s your thing) accident. This is the only way for caring human beings to include the worst among us in their field of compassion.

Last night, I watched a documentary about surviving members of the Nazi SS. While a handful of the elderly Germans interviewed expressed remorse for their part in wartime atrocities all those years ago, an equal or greater number of these doddering “Jerries” were as stubbornly anti-Semitic as ever; one of them even began tearing up when reminiscing about a particularly inhumane diatribe from his Fuhrer that he had had the honor of attending as a teen. There is nothing left for these men and their confounding ideology. For decades, they have watched “The Motherland” evolve into a democratic and multi-cultural society while public expression of National Socialist Weltanschauung became encoded as a criminal act. Yet these feeble old men still hate with all of their remaining might, seemingly as confident as ever that institutional hatred is the first step towards a real Germanic Utopia. I suspect that subconsciously, to a man, they are well aware of the fact that the real source of their rabid dissatisfaction isn’t the non-Aryan population of the world but their own deep-seated insecurities.

Many of the Buddhist practices in which I engage are designed to expand one’s compassion to include all sentient beings without exception. I’m sure I don’t need to identify the public figure who more than anyone else has made the nurturing of this mindset dauntingly challenging for me. However, my current inability to feel empathy towards this despicable man-child is a result of my imperfect view, not his loathsome words and actions. When I indulge in willful Schadenfreude towards this man (or anyone I deem similarly “subhuman”), I do so from my own secret reserve of subconscious suffering. If I were to honestly answer the question “would I rather he be free from the suffering behind his hatred or see him brutally punished for it?”, my reply wouldn’t be the one that indicates a willingness to take the high road. In other words, I (and many others, of course) allow his inhumanity to infect and distort my alleged values. All this does is keep the circle of delusion in motion.

Compassion for an adversary is not acceptance of his or her harmful actions. When someone causes deliberate suffering, it is imperative that they be somehow neutralized in as non-violent a manner as possible. But feeling compassion for someone laboring under the yoke of ignorance is a natural reaction to the understanding that egocentric individuality is an illusion.

Ann Coulter made a profound admission of human vulnerability with one little 140 character dispatch. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for T***p to do the same. So in lieu of that, I am going to try to remember the following things whenever my distaste for him rises to the level of unhealthy disdain: 1) He is incapable of feeling love; 2) He is fundamentally unlovable; 3) His entire sense of self-worth is predicated on imaginary things like money and power and victory; 4) He is incapable of seeing the beauty inherent in children and animals; 5) He is frightened at his own inability to escape his self-made prison of malignant ego; 6) He is possibly the loneliest human being in the Western Hemisphere.

Ask yourself: would you trade places with this sad, pathetic man for any amount of money in the world? I’m going to hazard a guess that you answered in the negative. This is all you need to keep in mind if you wish to continue resisting acts of cruelty while simultaneously feeling sadness for the soul-crushing suffering at their core. This is right view. And it’s a son-of-a-bitch.  It’s also as radical and revolutionary a mindset as one can possibly adopt.  Viva la Revolucion!

35 thoughts on “Revolutionary Empathy

  1. There goes Anne Colter again with the plagiary: ““The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation….” Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and other essays. That’s what really pisses me off! If she insists on stealing someone’s line…give them credit! And the Nazi thing: makes me better understand Einstein’s quote that when something like this: “An entire generation has to die off before a new idea takes hold.” Those are my two comments on your brilliant post. Keep them coming!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What’s funnier is that Thoreau’s views were about as diametrically opposed to hers as possible. I’m guessing she remembers having heard the phrasing somewhere, but failed to pinpoint its author as the former naturalist occupant of Walden Pond.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

        I guess she left the lecture too early. She must be terribly desperate herself, unloving, unlovable, egotistical and lonely, just as you said. There’s really no rehab for stupidity.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I’m so glad you presented that quote in its entirety. So profound and more timely than ever. But even before her sad little tweet, I was always able to discern the despair in her eyes, no matter what was coming out of her mouth. Apparently, Bill Maher was able to discern that, too, and found it momentarily sexy. Think with your head, Bill.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Haha.
        I love Thoreau too and his Civil disobedience is amazingly powerful. So, this at the same time a warm recommendation to those who haven’t read it and are interesting in the subject matter. In short, he urges action, rebellion, revolution, if you will, though a peaceful one. Talking about how much we despise slavery (of any kind) is no action because actions speak louder than words, even if it means breaking the law, for example by nonpayment of taxes (which is otherwise bloody because corrupt), even at the expense of going to prison, which is the best place for a just man in an unjust society.

        I’d like to hear your opinion about this in one of your next posts, maybe with a glimpse of your hippie days in the context of fighting against the system. How was it back than as opposed to how you see that time now, from a distance.

        And as for Miss, and her ‘We singles live empty lives of quiet desperation and will die alone,’ the more I go back to it, the more stupid it sounds. “Leading lives of quiet desperation” has nothing to do with us poor souls who nobody cares for and who’ll end up alone. It’s quite the contrary, as you said. Thoreau refers to wrong values in his equally powerful Walden which you mentioned. We feel empty, and desperately try to fill this emptiness with material things.
        This hole on the other hand can be well filled by making somebody happy, that is by ‘funding happy families with children who fill their days with joy’, you stupid shallow person.
        So when someone quotes something they have no clue about so as to sound smarter, they’d better think twice before speaking. This way is sounds a bit funny, however shallow.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I will gladly explore that in my next post — I’m sure you guessed it would be right up my alley and I thank you for the inspiration! However, I think you envision me as older than I really am, by several decades. As Manson and the gang were putting the final nail in the hippie coffin, I was in some stage of embryonic development in my mom’s uterus. I sometimes use the term hippie in self-mockery because I have an aversion to haircuts. But I hate the Grateful Dead, and if there was anything like a rebel to imitate in my teen years, it came in the form of Judd Nelson informing the uptight youth of his day that they were, in fact, neo-maxi-zoom-dweebies.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. That explains it. I didn’t dare to ask.
        You mentioned your hippie years the other day and I thought to myself-No fucking way. You’re either aging gracefully and I look like shit or the pic is too small. So if not the 60s, then your rebellions youth, 80s more likely, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Eighties it is. I was born on March 16, 1970. For future reference, you can always dare to ask me anything about which you may be curious. I have no taboo topics nor do I consider anything “too personal”. But for some reason, I kind of like the idea of people envisioning me in my sixties. Makes me feel like Kurt Vonnegut, but less dead.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Though less curly.
        OK, so I’m really curious about Paul the rebel, who were your role models, and who your opponents. What cause did you believe in? Who or what did you fight against? I guess every generation has a cause. Mine certainly did (will talk about it one day), I meant every except this one. Millennials may know technology , but they are killing education. No principles, no aim, or movement to which they are committed and which they are ready and willing to defend or advocate.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I’m going to really enjoy writing about this. Especially since “the system” against which I struggled most vehemently was my mom and dad. Their minds were (and are) firmly planted in the 1940s and they are more rabidly Roman Catholic than the Pope. Hence, I didn’t have to look any further than my own living room to find my version of “The Man”.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Not to intrude on his fabulous dialogue, but when I first began to follow Paul I assumed advanced age, as well. I think it is the word “curmudgeon” that lead me astray, a term I always presumed associated with surly old men. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Professor of Psychology Paul, you make entirely too much sense. Your writing continues its perfected lucidity which leaves me in awe of its poignancy, thereby making me feel lesser than. Ah well, just one more inadequacy to add to my list. Maybe I should just be thankful being able to understand you.

    > suffering is always at the root of expressions of bigotry and hatred.

    My father would say, “Son, when a creature suffers so, and there’s no cure for them, the best thing you can do is to put them down.”

    [Of course, suffering, compassion, hatred, forgiveness only make sense in a human world where it is assumed the Universe has a purpose. If one’s purpose exists only because one thinks one has a purpose, is that, in the end, truly a purpose? Or is the simulation just fucking with us?]

    Hey, way to keep it light on a Sunday morning. (grin)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re too kind. The penultimate paragraph of your comment should in itself dissolve any feelings of being “lesser than”. Incidentally, do we have the option of just putting T***p down? That sounds like such a clean and easy solution to this mess.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. On the other hand… I just read an out of right-field article that stated that Drumpf is the globalist “deep state”‘s unplanned nightmare. The man’s a stain on the bed sheets of society, but consider this: I don’t recall ever defending the “media”, the State Dept., the CIA, the FBI, the intelligence sector, and global trade before in my life. These groups used to be the untrustworthy puppets of the oligarchs. Um… Wait a minute. What just happened here? I’m just now starting to chew on the gristly tidbit, so I don’t have much insight. But, it is curious, nonetheless.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Appreciate that comment Paul. That’s my end game. If I don’t get there? That’s okay too. I am enjoying the process much more than I thought I would, thanks to WP and people like you. I could name names, but they know who they are.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really was taken by this post, really observant with explinations and the wizardy of your talent to spin the yarn in to a great teaching for my day… and then… Trump. Why did you have to go there? I’m so bummed. I don’t even like the man! BUT, never, have I EVER witnessed a sitting president get the kind of death threats that he does, getting public threats about raping and murdering his wife and the threats against his son, being taken and mailed back to him piece by piece… We say he is the dummest man on earth and in the next econd we say he is going to take America down? Is he stupid or is he a threat? IS he a man with out a soul ro are we taking it? Like I said, I don’t like the man but I would never have thought in a million years Americans would be so openly hateful to with harm on his entire family. ~tired of the hate, Kim

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone who is also single and likely to die alone, I thought a little about this tweet by Coulter.

    Somehow, I can be alone and still understand the desirability and logic in giving families tax cuts – or how it makes as much sense as any other tax cuts. I’ll note that she didn’t mention how the same logic could be used by the bottom 99% in opposing the tax cuts in the bill designed exclusively for the top 1%.

    This is why logical arguments work so rarely when talking about politics and religion: We tend to reach our conclusions based on emotion and hard-wired fears, and then staple logical arguments to our conclusions later on. We pretend we’ve reasoned our way to our “beliefs,” but it rarely happens, so far as I can see.

    Some of us are less selfish and cold than others, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point. Politics is, after all, just a way for differing personalities to pretend they are willing to compromise. In other words, it’s far more psychologically “human” than we tend to view it. But any psychic endeavor between people who do not understand their own psyches is doomed to failure or at least stagnation. I, too, am single, but this is by design. I might die alone but then again, I might not. The difference between Ms. Coulter and I is that I (and you, obviously) understand that our prior choices brought us to where we’re at right now. Yet somehow, if she were to get herself a family, I doubt it would temper her odiousness one bit. Her real neuroses are probably much, much deeper than just a general feeling of loneliness.


  5. Ann Coulter is one of those human beings that falls into the rare category as to be “beneath my contempt.” I find her loathsome, sure, but essentially harmless. She has no real influence that I can see. Like Sarah Palin, since her defeat as VP, she is a voice of ignorance and little more.

    The other, the one you will not name, well… that’s different.

    I want to be a better man, the man that you allude to, the bigger man. But I’m not, where it concerns him. I answer your question upon the lowest of roads.

    I am going to save your 6 things to my Evernotes and try to move beyond the suffering I allow him to inflict upon me, as well, but I promise nothing. Superman has Lex Luthor. Batman has the Joker. Daredevil, Kingpin. Captain America, the Red Skull.

    Tom has Donald Trump.

    Every hero needs a villain, I suppose. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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