Conflict Exacerbated and Compounded — The Descent

The man read the following lines in a poem:

You read online how television, internet,
starving children in numbers greater than
three, polar bears, rain forests, light from
an off direction all desensitize the human
brain’s ability to empathize.

The man then thought about a recent incident where
he was treated very rudely by a leader in
an organization the man had once directed.

The man had been treated rudely by members
of that organization when the man was the
director.

They all did it “for the sake” of the organization.

It builds.

People dig in. They rationalize why they are right.

The man told a friend who is a member of that organization.

She became irate with him and told him that she might
never speak to him again and then rescinded that
idea for the sake of the relationship. It was close to

being really bad. Thirty-two years down the drain.

She thought the man wanted her to do something about the
rudeness he experienced at the organization. She
felt triangulated. He didn’t intend that. He just wanted
to share his hurt feelings with a friend, a friend
who had always been able to empathize in the past.

The man was hurt by members of the organization.
The man couldn’t understand the reasons for their actions.
The man couldn’t empathize with their motives in what
they believed were actions to protect the organization.

It builds.

The man’s friend was hurt by his telling her what had happened.
The conflict he had with members of the organization was
transferred to their relationship.

She couldn’t understand why he told her what happened.
She couldn’t empathize with the man.

He then, hurt by her reaction, couldn’t empathize with her.

The man then reread the lines from the poem:

You read online how television, internet,
starving children in numbers greater than
three, polar bears, rain forests, light from
an off direction all desensitize the human
brain’s ability to empathize.

Run, duck, attack, strike, hide, cower, fight.

The primordial survival skills reclaimed
in the absence of empathy.

Only they don’t work so well anymore
in helping people survive.

And then the man thought to himself, it is a miracle
we don’t all kill each other off and let the rats
have at it. They probably could handle it all better.

They are the professionals at fight or flight.

We used to know how to empathize.

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