I Pity Many Fools
A small thought for the day: Pity, in addition to being the favorite type of party for grievance mongers, is quite the weapon. There are a great deal of people out there beneath your contempt, people that are varying flavors of revolting or annoying, but people you get stuck dealing with. This is because life doesn’t segregate people by their usefulness or outlook: we choose our friends but that is as far as our choices go.
Part of improving your life, and your general mindset, is dealing with these people. Those you can’t avoid or stay away from, but people you also don’t have to supplicate in any way. Personally, I’ve got one major asshole I can’t seem to escape (the day is coming; he is in major self-destruct mode and the only help he wants is accelerating his run in with the brick wall of consequences he’s working hard on building). But, I have realized, I can’t really fault the guy.
A lot of people operate as though they were automatons: they don’t take the time to examine their behaviors or actions. There are so many examples I’m not sure where to start: criminals that just can’t get a fresh start because they never take the time to examine what they did to get themselves in the bad situation to start with; people that can’t lose weight but never look at their food choices and always try the latest fad for just enough time to become miserable; spouses that don’t understand why their husband or wife is disinterested or even hostile. This isn’t me writing the tired old canard about how people are sheep. They aren’t sheep but for whatever reason a large majority of people don’t stop and think about their lives. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe some are too stupid to grasp it. I don’t have an answer to that.
This asshole, and most assholes, operates under the same sort of schedule. Being an obnoxious asshole is second nature to him — it’s programmed in. He can’t even help it anymore, he isn’t doing it to cause offense or harm. That’s just the automaton he has become, through a vicious combination of nature and nurture. In watching his actions I have come to realize that he actually is too stupid to understand how his actions actually harm him. This isn’t an attempt to belittle him — I could royally tear him down if I wished.
I can’t feel anger toward a robot following the instructions built into it. I just pity him. Because of this instruction set, because of whatever tragic circumstances molded him into this self-destructive prick, he’s unable and unwilling to take a step back. He’s literally destroying all that is good in his own life — and despite having to deal with him, the only way he can harm me is if I let him (or he breaks the law, which would ultimately harm him one way or another). He can harm others but sooner or later everyone will realize what a damaging presence he is and run as far and as fast as their legs will allow.
He will remain unhappy. The man will die old and alone, bitter, blaming everyone but himself for the situation he finds himself in. People will go to his funeral out of obligation. He will leave no lasting mark on the world.
That’s just… sad. Pitiful. I pity him. That will eat him alive.
Anger is a fine emotion when used correctly. There are a damn lot of things a person can be mad about. But pity fits in a great deal more cases than anger does. There are several people in my life that, at one point or another, greatly angered me. But sitting here today and trying to come up with names… it’s all melted into pity because all of them have led disastrous lives due to their own decisions.
This isn’t about someone born in bad circumstances who never gets the opportunity for success or even the chance to make a good decision. Think about the worst person you know — how much of what makes them the worst is choices they made? Isn’t that sad?
Another great thing about pity? It lives in part of our minds that we don’t use much. We don’t often think about it. Anger stays ever-present, it stirs us up in a different way. Sometimes anger can even kick off your adrenaline. Pity can’t do that. If someone has wronged you in any way take a moment to examine their actions. If you did something wrong you ought to correct it, but if the hurt came out of the blue? If this person was just a jerk to be cruel, or self-serving, or in any way just for their own amusement? You don’t want that person around. You don’t want to give them the power of hate and anger, emotions that haunt us like ghosts. Put them out of your mind.
Pity the fool.