*This is the first entry in what will be a series of “Leading with Empathy” posts. Where there is conflict, controversy, misunderstanding, pain, or confusion, I am going to attempt to dissolve it with empathetic mediation. I am trying to be the change I wish to see. Please see this post https://musings4peace.com/2014/05/13/right-and-wrong/ to better understand my intention.*
How often do we all hear this common judgment, ”It’s the mainstream media we should blame?” Anything in our culture that we do not wish to take responsibility for; rising violence, materialism, inequality, sexualized imagery, discrimination, stereotypes, bullying, etc, we point our fingers on this many faced, therefore faceless and feeling-less entity we call the Media. In a contradictory display, being a participating therefore perpetuating consumer of this very media we demonize, we’ll deny our own part in the unfolding of its expression. With a humble heart and compassionate consideration I want to extend some empathy for this sentient entity in actuality made up of many human hearts, therefore very susceptible to human feelings.
For whatever reason, maybe your innate need to create and contribute to the world, you have become a major player delivering some form of mass communication readily available for public consumption. Maybe this was your plan all along, or maybe you arrived on this world stage without much prior planning. Regardless I would be willing to bet at times you feel enormous pressure. You have an impact on how people perceive the world, what they believe is real, true, relevant and important. Your influence can impact how we relate to one another, what popular phrases we use and what’s considered cool. Your influence affects what we like, buy, and consume. Your contribution constructs our shared consciousness, how we think collectively. How our future enfolds, how our story will be written as history, and the art future generations will see and hear largely rests on your shoulders. Holy Sh!t that is A LOT!! Maybe all you wanted to do was share stores, make music, pretend professionally, perform athletically, entertain, report the news, get laughs, serve the public, create a game, connect people, and you never signed up to carry the weight of the well-being of your culture. The anxiety from the pressure must be debilitating at times, my own chest is constricting just trying to imagine what you may feel.
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Is it confusing and overwhelming trying to balance between your own individual expression and opinions and how they might mold the way a whole generation expresses themselves and what they believe? It is sad but true, we do not always think for ourselves and willingly hand over our freedom of thought to allow outsiders to shape our behavior and beliefs. Feeling that level of responsibility has got to be insanely intense!
Frustratingly painful, could that describe what it’s like absorbing all the malicious and self-righteous blame aimed at you? We can hide behind our virtual avatars and rip into you with ruthless insults, demeaning criticism and self-righteous judgment. Or a critique with little consideration, a judgment full of condemnation can make a major publication and stain your reputation. In our polarizing culture of right/wrong we ignore the grey areas of contributing factors, impacting circumstances, and collective creation; and make declarations of certainty and accusations of fault. How many holes has your heart sustained while we assume your motives and fixate on all of your fumbles and flaws?
Being an artist myself I can both empathize and sympathize with the frustration and sadness you likely feel in response to the creative restrictions, censoring, and control you experience from the major media moguls. Even if you wanted to report about an event that you find relevant and important for the general public to be aware about, your journalist integrity may be challenged by what your boss will allow. Your freedom of expression to photograph the beauty of nursing mothers may be censored because our society has turned away from acceptance of this natural and normal human behavior. You may not want to work with certain companies because they do not represent your values, like health or safety, although your employer/executive director/manager/ PR person insists that it is vital for the advancement of your career.
These are all just my guesses, I may be off base, I can only try and sense how your footwear feels using the fact that we are coincidentally both mortal and reside on the planet known as Earth so we have similar feelings and share Universal Human Values. I hope this allows you to at least feel acknowledged as being a person like everyone else who is trying to make it in this world doing the best they can with what they got. Hopefully you’ll feel lovely tingles of loving energy, too.
I would like to make a request… Do you think you could make an effort to contribute to your own emotional health by seeking sources of empathy for your individual pain and challenges? If you want someone well trained to be non-biased while providing empathetic presence I would suggest checking out The Center for Nonviolent Communication. I believe this will help you fill your own ‘love’ cup so you will have a more wonderfully fulfilled life and can more easily contribute to your culture with compassion.
And if you are genuinely willing I ask that you use gentle hands and hold this special responsibility with care and consideration for the impact you are making on our world. And I would be so grateful if you would contribute to meeting our collective needs for honesty, equality, safety, peace and love. Asking this question I find to be a helpful guide.. Is this how I would like to be treated? Is this what I would want someone sharing with my children/nieces/nephews/grandchildren/cousins/friends? Am I contributing to the kind of world I want to live in?