We see life through the lens of our personalities, its interests, and our passions our gifts of sensibility. We experience life through the lens of rules, guidance and principles. We get a sense of our own character and abilities by observing how others react to what we do. If we turn out well, it is because our parents and elders displayed to us a good example of human beings who are intelligent, honest and upright.
Yet how and what we see is dependent on the depth and subtlety of our intellectual and emotional endowments. No person can see over their own height. If those endowments are severely limited, the conduct and ideals it produces will be severely limited as well. The extent of people’s gifts, their depth and functioning, mean everything. For example, if an individual’s soul contains no warm temperature in it, the chances are that such a soul will turn out to be a heartless human being.
Moral sensitivity is a gift, a gift that should be cultivated and developed. It enables us to detect genuine similarities to what we experience and what we are and what others experience as well. It acts to end isolation, and it lessens conceit. A morally sympathetic person takes the suffering of others to heart, at least to some degree. Another’s pain is your pain. Moral sensitivity demands you sympathize with the suffering of others and try to comfort them in the belief that kindness can work wonders, and it usually does. The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird has one real lesson: that to be decent, you have to place another person’s pain and welfare on a level with your own. You have to walk in another person’s shoes in order to experience what they are experiencing. But you have to have some softness in your soul in order to do this. Above all, the feelings of others have to be real to you in order to sympathize with them.
I was once friends with Terry --, a senior in high school, suffered a green sick fracture his wrist doing Lacrosse. He was all bandaged up when I saw him out in the field, seated, gazing on at the game. He was an extraordinary kid: high scorer, soon to rise to the top of a very large high school class, perceptive and quick-witted. He had a girl friend, Bethany, a blonde, showy, who was always occupied with something, and she took no notice of Terry’s distress. But I saw that when Terry moved, he would wince and make tense, grimacing faces each time he changed his position, so I sat down, talked with him. We liked each other.
Today, he tried to very cordial, but his pain worried me, and a few minutes later, I went up to the girl friend. I told her seems to be in a lot of pain.
She replied with enthusiastic gush, “Pain. Oh, my God. Don’t talk to me about pain! I was cleaning out my garage over the weekend, and I can tell you my pain is bad; it’s killing me. I mean, I guess it’s self inflicted, but my shoulders, my arms, my back – they’re just killing me,” and quite oblivious of my purpose, she continued her elated babble.
After a short while, I returned to Terry. “I’m sorry to be you are hurting.”
“No,” he said. “It’s no big deal.” A pause, and then he learned over a said in a low, resentful voice. “At least not to some people.”
I raised my eyes, and he tossed his head over in his girl’s direction. “I had a really bad day yesterday, and every time I told her I was in a lot pain, she said, ‘Well, you should tell Dr. Sheldon that the next time you see him,’ and then she would rush off somewhere.” Terry was vexed and unhappy.
The afternoon wore on, I came back a couple hours later, and Terry was still there, He told me that he had gone through another couple of hours of really bad pain, and he told her that his wrist as killing him to the degree that he was biting his lips. Seeing that he was worse and expecting some comfort from her, and he again she told her of his pain, and once again, she said, ‘Well, tell Dr Sheldon the next time we see him.’”
He finally had interrupted and asked her angrily. “Is that all you’re going to say? Tell Dr. Sheldon when I see him? When you see me like this, don’t you have any reactions? Don’t you have any ideas?”
“Like what ideas? What do you want me to do?” she challenged, her manner still very defensive and hard boiled. He just stared at her for a moment and said only, “Express some sympathy.”
That girl friend had the makings of a politician.
A heartless human being does not feel the reality of another’s suffering nor can they fully believe in it. When other people express sorrow or sympathy for a tragedy, they heartless believe those things mere pretenses, a form of playacting which the actor does not really feel, but pretends that they do. I once knew a husband who scorned his wife for being lazy when later tests revealed she suffered from a serious disability. That is true heartlessness.
Busybodies and Meddlers
No human being can tolerate being constantly humiliated. All bosses humiliate their employees, who are their subjects. When we get ordered around, our soul slightly tightens in resistance. Commands of others place a sore point, a splinter, a tiny scar in our souls. The more we are bullied, the more splinters our souls accumulate over time.
In any sort of partnership, there may emerge a partner that likes to order, to meddle, to supervise, and who had a compulsion to be a busybody. They put pressure on their partner to do what they do rather than allow them to do things on their own, following their own impulses. Only by doing what the busybody does is any peace to be obtained. Such people worship conformity above all else and they harbor a quiet desire to enslave another.
Such people are insecure and suffer from their own grave deficiencies. Micromanagers put their own pleasure first. Their pleasure consists of arranging things according to their own personal liking, as if their own personal preferences have universal validity. The effect of needless instructions and meddling does nothing but estrange the people being ordered about, yet the busybodies seem oblivious of this. “Why does Adm. Nelson keep signaling?” exclaimed one of Adm. Nelson’s exasperated admirals. “We all know what we are to do.”
The more stable personality grants wide latitude to differences among the people they know. The fact another person has a new or unorthodox approach to doing things should provoke no alarm. Every individual has his or her on way of doing things. It is a gift of their unique and unrepeatable temperament. To create a likeness of yourself by dictating to others is a form of insecure fear. It is jittery and timid. When the difference in method arouses anger or punishment, it means that insecure person has to turn to unpleasantness to enforce his or her pet ideas and methods. The offender is punished by being put at a distance because isolation makes them suffer for their disobedience.
The chief truth is that no one wants to feel subsidiary. Every act that is corrected or overruled deposits a little splinter. Being ordered about by others, make us feel incompetent. The commands of others place us on the defensive. No likes being constantly overruled. Said Lincoln, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” In the “ordered-around,” their sense of grievance constantly builds. The victim develops a hostility to the wrongs done to him deepens until it become implacable. Some tipping point is reached where the enslaved suddenly defaces a book or breaks a dish, simply wanting to be free of al those splinters inflicted on them by another.
Dictators are the supreme busybodies. Nothing escapes their magpie scrutiny. Every act is prescribed.
The Hunger for Power
What kind of person worships power? One of their chief defects is that they are extremely self obsessed; the Earth doesn’t revolve around the Sun; instead the Sun and the Earth revolves around them and their uniquely gifted personality. The dimension of their self-importance hides the sky and skewers any objectivity. They have extremely grandiose ideas of themselves. Their defects do not really count against them. They are minor blemishes on their unprecedented excellence. They don’t overcome difficulties, they bargain their way out of them.
It is a sad truth that the ability of some leaders to hold people in thrall is largely due to the ignorance of their subjects. Think of Trump. Politically, their followers are hollow vessels waiting to be filled, eager for slogans that flatter them and promise a better future. Despots quickly recognize the mental inertia of the common man. It gives them an opening. They realize that public inertia is their path to power. The ordinary man learns nothing and soon forgets everything under a leader. Power rules a multitude of empty heads.
Leaders craved to be admired, but the desire to be admired at any cost breeds widespread corruption among a leader’s followers. Trump is the hero of the frustrated and poorly educated, but the dismal truth is that most oordinary people have very empty souls. This does not mean that they aren’t decent and hardworking. It simply means that the scope of their lives is increasingly cramped. Their lives lack events. There is no way for them to escape the uniformities of their destinies, and only a forceful leader can disrupt the sameness of their existences. Ordinary people will endure a great deal as long as it is new and exciting and presented to them with authority. If a person is nothing in themselves, there is a kind of servile gratification in finding oneself embraced as a tool of unscrupulous power. The empty public mind lacks the critical capacity to analyze the worth of what they are told. For the despot, ordinary people are simply targets, a vacant keyboard waiting to be played on. Corrupt leaders are not interested in others except to obtain their praise and endorsement. To a leader, the ordinary person provokes no interest in them because of who and what they are.
Another key factor is mental contagion, the desire to be part of a growing bandwagon. Mediocrities yearn to belong. They yearn to be part of a group, forgetting that every group is a home for mediocrities like themselves. The solidarity of a party is always stronger than the individual’s sense of being of what he or she is apart from it.
It is a proven rule that despots draw submissive natures to them. Power seekers are narrow and intolerant of mind, but they can convince. However, any sort of resistance draws out their worst qualities. They do not confront opposition; they are too impatient. First, they mislead it, then crush and murder it. To succeed means using secrecy to escape reexamination, questioning, or exploring alternative theories. They do not have the confidence to be open in their dealings. They work in secret in order to escape debate and examination of their claims. By nature, they are unilateral and high handed, and they do things in secret because they skirt and evade any sort of open discussion. They create little deserts of uniformity around them. They succeed by deceit. Think of Lenin’s funereal, and Stalin telling Trotsky the wrong date for the funeral, so that when Trotsky doesn’t show up, it will offend the populace, and it is Stalin who will then make the funeral oration for Lenin. Is there anything more commonplace than ruthlessness in politics? Think of Hillary Clinton.
Many leaders come from obscure backgrounds and rise because of their skills and talent. They have gifts above the common. Such people want power so that they can carry out their projects without interference from others. Democracy is, after all, very cumbersome. But why do so many choose to be unscrupulous? Because they lack respect for their followers. Because they are heartless characters. Because they think that to have scruples is a form of weakness. If you would be bold, you must trample or deceive others. To them, promoting what is dubious and false is fine as long as it results in your obtaining ever greater power. Such leaders have no integrity. They had no need of it.
By contrast, scrupulous people don’t like power; they don’t like the trappings of power. Don’t like being waited on, recognized bowed to, feted and flattered. They regard being ferried about in a limousine as being trapped in a bubble that separates you from local life. They want to experience life first hand, which means seeing things with your own eyes.
Unfortunately, truly depraved leaders don’t want to be admired -- they yearn to be adored. This is a truly obscene desire. They want to see their picture adorning even the simplest of walls; they are determined to see their name highlighting any structure.
Is any human being really so important or talents and good hearted that others should bow down to us? Shouldn’t a decent person blush at this idea? Shouldn’t a balance mind be skeptical of any attempts at idolization? Despots see the life of the ordinary life as something lacking in value. They see their subjects as vermin, diseased rats cockroaches, yet leaders constantly extort praise from the subjugated. This is baffling.
You despise people, you kill them at will, yet you want them to praise you. Why would the opinion of people you despise be anything of value? Is that not insane? You despise people was worthless and kill them like bugs yet the dictator never asks himself what their praise is worth? If they are vermin, who prize their praise? The despot’s greed for applause is entirely senseless and illogical.
Despots have no need of ethics. If you want to find out what someone is saying, ransack their files and possessions and spy on their conversations. Make up discrediting stories. What they cannot stand is competition in which they can be bested. They fact they act on the sly betrays a lack of self confidence. Self confident people look forwards to tests of their ability. They believe that can prevail in a fair contest,
So think carefully about today’s political candidates. To what does the adoration of their followers lead?