Monday, January 21, 2013

Empathy for the Not-So-Blessed

“Serial killers are not monsters,
they are human beings with tortured souls.”[1]
— Micki Pistorius (2000)
This is a potentially highly-loaded article, but it is necessary for us to contemplate the impact of our development on our adult persona.
The nasty person, the liar, the criminal—they, too, have dealt with nastiness, lies, and crimes against them; worse than we, the comparatively blessed, can imagine. Indeed, for some, the abuse and neglect they copped as children would send anyone into cowering submission. Yet, it’s the one who has risen above such abuse and neglect, to reach for a saving God, who deserves our utmost respect.
Unfortunately, most of those who have been dealt the harshest of blows do not recover, and never find the hope in God that the Lord destined for all humankind, equally.
Contrasting the Worst of Them
A serial killer serves as an illustration if we can bear it. When we read about their upbringing we can know for certain why they have tortured souls. If we had endured what they had, and had lived through the crimes that had been inflicted on them, would we have turned out any differently?
In this case, we imagine being born into their situation, with their personality, and into circumstances so threatening as to make life a hazardous pastime, if not a dangerously deadly one. We know that when children endure such things all sorts of mental illnesses come to the fore. They develop what we can call a disorganised attachment, where personality disorders may be central to the challenges that plague them.
There is in this potential ‘monster’ the constant berating of a social environment that refuses to accept them. Rejection could be their middle name. Could we confidently say that wouldn’t affect us? If we were rubbish to the world and nobody had hope in us, would we be so safe and secure within ourselves?
There Are Always Reasons to Explain Situations
We can all react in horror at the things that occur in our society, and we should.
But life in our world has more of a cause-and-effect nature than we realise. The person who grows up accepted, acknowledged and loved becomes a lovely, acknowledging, and acceptable individual. The person, on the other hand, who grows up rejected, ignored and despised learns to despise people, develops arrogance, and rejects people because trust can never be extended as they have never enjoyed trust.
There are always reasons to explain our blessedness or otherwise.
All our parents were imperfect, but some parents are a lot more imperfect than others.
Not only should we be thankful for our blessedness, but we should extend an empathic arm to those not-so-blessed, knowing that their lack of blessing is not their fault just as our blessedness is no real credit to us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

[1] The context of this quote, the full story, can be found in the article, The Making of a Serial Killer.

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