Compassion And Empathy

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People are frustrating. Bad waiters, crazy drivers, and ruthless dictators who frighteningly resemble Bob Dylan are everywhere. Some neighbors don’t even return a “Hi” or a salad bowl. No wonder so many people spend their days alternating between road rage and ‘roid rage and beyond.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of drowning in a vat of anger and frustration, every single day, wouldn’t you rather soak in a hot tub of compassion for your fellow beings, forever? I know I would, and that’s just what I do.

Here’s my secret: Anytime I get annoyed, offended, outraged, miffed, or consumed by white-hot vengeance — because of anyone at all — I imagine they just killed a guy. That one mental leap prevents a lifetime of stumbles.

Let’s take the world of dating. A first date is stressful and full of questions like “Do I look OK?” and “Holy crap, is that hair coming out of his ear really four inches long?” Instead of wasting your time on questions no one can answer, you should focus on an answer you can embrace: this potential soulmate isn’t just a young professional who enjoys road trips and live music, but a young murderer who enjoys killing guys, then destroying the bodies with sulfuric acid while cackling. That thought alone can turn a dismal date around.

You can use this method with your dearest family members too. Do you have “daddy issues,” like every single person who has ever lived? Maybe you can’t understand why your father never calls, or drinks like a fish, or thinks he can command fish when he puts on his Aquaman costume. While you’re trying to get the old rascal to leave the aquarium peacefully, consider this: what if your dad has not only been drinking daily since he was 12, but killing guys daily for the same period? This puts your father in a whole new light, allowing you to be more patient and understanding.

Can you imagine committing homicide — and getting away with it — when you were twelve? Then getting addicted to snuffing out life, continuing to kill and kill and kill, all the way through your teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties, never missing a beat, cruising your way to the status of greatest serial killer of all time, not just in terms of numbers but because of your incredible secrecy and effectiveness? No wonder your dad drinks. He has a lot on his plate.

My philosophy of maybe-they-killed-a-guy-ism applies to more than relationships and family — it helps us understand the complicated world of politics. Like a lot of folks, I’m frustrated with the President. But what if Obama has more on his mind than budgets and terrorism and jobs and polls and kinetic military actions? What if he started killing guys with his bare hands and teeth, just for kicks, and the secret service has been covering it up? What if he’s out-killing our forces in Afghanistan singlehandedly? That could distract a fella.

It’s about empathy — putting yourself in the other person’s blood-stained shoes. I mean, after I kill a guy I’m very preoccupied. I worry about how much DNA evidence I left behind, and if anyone will check the Winnebago. I wonder if a hand grenade would’ve been more effective. I wonder if a stern warning would’ve been more prudent. I’m a mess.

But if I constantly dwell on the guys I’ve garroted, shot, drowned, stabbed with bayonets, dropped off buildings, starved in my dungeon, and smooshed with a zamboni, then I’m guilty of something worse than being a merciless psychokiller: I’m being a self-centered boob. Who wants to be that? I’d rather open my mind than harden my heart.

Wouldn’t you?

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