Total Internal Reflection on the Actions of Others

Kai Christiansen, A&E Editor

  I’ve never been a violent person, but a few weeks ago I was pushed to my limit. The rage I felt was channeled into violence toward myself and not toward the people who made me feel the way I did. Things need to change at this school, hell, everywhere. It’s not just a simple lesson of “understanding feelings,” it’s a case of understanding perspectives. There seems to be a stigma around listening and comprehending what others say, a stigma that leads people to disregard all forms of others emotions. Not all forms, but that’s sure what it felt like. I couldn’t quite understand the stigma, so I turned to research to find the reasoning.
In 2012, Donald Glover made a stand up special for Netflix titled “Weirdo.” In his routine, he mused on how children are awful human beings because they don’t understand empathy. But when we grow up, we relate to each other through compassion. When we’re young, we don’t quite grasp this concept of empathy and emotion, so we can’t relate to people. According to Scholastic, kids begin to learn this concept from ages three to five, and they begin to show compassion from ages five to six. At the age of 17 and 18, we should fully understand the concept, but sadly, some people don’t.
  According to Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today, the right supramarginal gyrus recognizes compassion. This part of the brain detects when we are being egocentric or ignorant, and it tries to correct this. When this part of the brain doesn’t work quite right, or we have to make quick decisions, our empathy is dramatically reduced. According to Glover, for people with undeveloped gyrus, it’s quite easy for them to take what they think is a “joke” and make it into something that feels more like an attack. And to be fair, that isn’t always one’s intentions.    Sometimes, when you “joke” with a tired, mentally unstable person, things can be misinterpreted. Both parties make mistakes , but the beginning came from an undeveloped gyrus not realizing the impact they were making on someone. I’ve been battling with myself recently, because the way I see it is that if you don’t understand empathy, which is what makes us connect as humans, then you’re almost subhuman. And this form of thinking is completely detrimental to what I want to come from this incident. If I’m calling someone less than human because they don’t show compassion, aren’t I just as bad for not showing it to that person now? I did all this research on an underdeveloped part of the brain, yet it doesn’t seem to answer the WHY of the situation.     According to Berglund, a study by the Max Planck Research Institute, confirmed that compassion can be trained, but it’s up to the person to implement it. So why isn’t this person implementing it? As much as I’d like to find the answer to this question, I fear the truth. I guess what I’m getting at is that we all need to change, me included. If I could go back to that night, I wouldn’t blame others for my actions and I sure as hell wouldn’t take responsibility for theirs. I found out a few days ago that I would never get the apology I deserved, nay, the one I need. If I can own my mistakes, then you can own yours. And to everyone else, own your actions. Every single one of them, no matter what they are. The only way to make progress in the right direction is if we make progress within ourselves.