Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Empathy Golem

Marina was 13 years old when her father took her to Marks & Spencers, (in the days before they had changing rooms) to buy a new skirt for High School. He had promised her faithfully TWICE the day before that he would absolutely NOT make her stand in the middle of the shop in her underwear (like he had every other time) and if the skirt didn’t fit he’d simply return it and exchange it for one that did.

Once inside the store he used his best authoritarian voice to order her (while she protested almost in tears “but you promised me I wouldn’t have to!!!”) to try the skirt on. He and a male cashier stood either side of her, between a rack of shirts and a rack of trousers, and each held a jumper out to make an impromptu dressing room. 

However, Marina wasn’t 6 years old, and this only succeeded in bringing twice as much attention to the situation. Marina’s dad and the male cashier (an ugly, fat, middle aged man) both looked at each other over Marina’s shoulder and chuckled at her visible discomfort, impotence, rage and embarrassment…while she stood in the middle of the shop in her knickers.

Leaving the shop Marina was almost beyond despair about the experience and above all about how her father had deliberately lied to her just to get her in the store due to his own laziness and selfish attitude. She’d always been told by her father that lying was fundamentally wrong. He had punished her as a little girl MANY times for lying. Her dad just smirked and without even looking at Marina replied, “what are you complaining for? No one could see you?”

“That man could see me!!!”

“Well he doesn’t matter, he’s only the cashier!”

3 hours later when they were at home, Marina STILL hadn’t shut up and was lamenting the awful thing her father had done and how bad he’d made her feel. Sick of listening to this constant whingeing her father then played the guilt card to get her to be silent.

Fixing her with a hurt look he said (with lower lip trembling): “I’ve been to buy YOU a new skirt Marina!”

This translated as “I’ve been to spend my hard earned money on something for you, young lady. And here you are moaning and whingeing about it. If you don’t shut up I’m going to have a mood and you know what that’ll mean don’t you!!!!”

Read that story again…imagine how Marina felt…and then substitute the following words:

Lance Manley for Marina.

Father/ Dad for Mother/ Mum.

Ugly Fat Middle Aged Male Cashier for Sparrow-Faced, Scrawny, Ugly, Middle Aged Female Cashier.

(Most importantly) Trousers for Skirt.

This incident was one of dozens that went far beyond the limits of even fictional tales of Jane Eyre-esque deprivation and humiliation. Problem was that she didn’t actually intend to upset me (30 years later and even retelling that incident is making me angry).

She is one of many people in society that are Empathy Golems.

Teachers in schools now have empathy imposed upon them. Back in my day and far before that, teachers were only compassionate if it was part of their natures. Your cat died when you were 5?

A nice teacher would let you have a cry on her lap and give you a cuddle.

A cunty teacher would tell you to shut your noise and get on with it.

Nowadays while the cuddling and sitting on knees is forbidden, the teacher would be automatically required to act upon the child’s unhappiness in a way that demonstrated state sanctioned kindness.

However in other walks of life people still do it. We all do it to some extent.

Outside Tesco there’s a homeless bum who sits and begs for change until the security guard tells him to move on. He must have about 500 people walk past him every hour, but he only ever has about a quid in change in the grubby baseball cap before his legs.

My friend Russell was in Poundland a while back perusing some tins of tuna when a large, thuggish looking Chav came walking down the aisle. Russell had the insurmountable cheek to be in the guy’s line of traffic and was standing on the bit of floor that the Chav needed to walk on without altering his trajectory. The bloke stopped and glared. Russell just looked up, went “you alright?” and ignored him. After a few seconds the guy harrumphed loudly and walked past.

As detailed in the last blog post. Caffe Nero have started piling their garbage bags WAY over the legal limits. They don’t compact it or make any attempt to keep coffee, tea and milk dregs out of the rubbish. Their attitude is that their own legal and professional rules prevent them leaving it in the shop overnight…so ON the bins it goes. This attracts rats and foxes and pisses off the local residents that live in flats above the alley where the bins are.

Throughout life people do the most awful, selfish shit and genuinely do not realise just how much hurt it’s causing others….simply because they themselves cannot relate to it.

My mother had no idea how a 13 year old, pubescent boy felt about standing in public view (in front of his mother and an ugly female cashier) in his undies… so therefore the humiliation I claimed to feel must only have been something I was putting on “just to get attention.”

But I digress…

Caffe Nero aren’t piling the garbage over the limit in order to piss off me and my neighbours. They’re simply Empathy Golems. Despite being told that this is wrong (both by me and the Man From The Council who has officially instructed them to stop it) they think of it as the Much Lesser of Two Evils. Their minds are blank to the space beyond the wall at the back of the shop…because they themselves only go out there to throw trash away. They don’t feel the indignation or annoyance of the 24 neighbours, including a couple with a 6 month old baby boy. They probably only think that I live here, sitting alone in my flat being a nuisance to them and their busy shop.

A song by The Fatima Mansions called Only Losers Take The Bus sums this idea up. Cathal Coughlan the singer/ songwriter was once waiting for a no. 67 in Dublin when a limo drove past. The passenger wound down the window and yelled “LOSERS! LOSERS!” at the bus queue. The song has the wonderful line “get these dead bodies off my race track!”

When we had Black Friday in Asda a month ago (a delightful present from the Yanks now Wal-Mart own the company) I doubt that most of even all of the people that knocked OAPs to the floor and threw punches actually knew the hurt they were causing. They genuinely believed that getting a 50” 3D HD TV at half price was the most important thing in their world.

The Falklands War veteran Simon Weston was horribly burned when the Argentinians bombed the ship he was on, the Sir Galahad, on 8th June 1982. He later recovered and in the TV documentary Simon’s Peace many years later, he met the commanding officer who had led the planes that dropped bombs on Galahad. I was fairly unimpressed by the documentary up until one very subtle scene. Simon is pacing his hotel room waiting for the man to arrive and then there’s a knock at the door. He opens it and a small, smartly dressed Argentinian with a big moustache is standing there. The man looks slightly startled, clearly not realising just how badly injured Simon Weston had been and Simon invites him to sit down and then takes a chair opposite him. He starts to thank the man for coming and all the while the bloke is looking him up and down, clearly agitated. He then leans forward and pats Simon’s leg gently and says softly “I’m sorry.” There’s a pause and Simon replies “you don’t have to be sorry. I just wish you weren’t quite so good at following radar”.

This scene made it quite clear that the guy wasn’t malicious, evil or even an Empathy Golem. He had led a bombing run that killed 48 people and injured a load more because he was a soldier. He hadn’t intended to hurt Simon Weston or anyone else. He’d just wanted to kill them and disable their ship.

Lack of empathy is the main cause of a lot of hurt in the world. The cunts that murdered Sophie Lancaster by stamping on her head and put her boyfriend Robert Maltby in a coma didn’t think for one second of the pain that their actions caused HUNDREDS of people…as they were incapable of empathy on any level except to themselves. Kicking a defenceless woman to death was, to them, a right giggle and they did it to prove they were tough. They didn’t intend to deprive a family of their daughter and create a martyr to bullying, because they were incapable of even imagining these things.

The irony of Empathy Golems is that they are usually so self obsessed that they expect the world to know exactly how THEY feel. I work in an office where the public come down to collect items that could not be delivered to their houses, for whatever reason. We get a lot of “I was in and he/ she didn’t knock. Why?!!” and laments that having to wait 24 hours is stupid and they hadn’t thought to turn the card over and look at the back where “tomorrow” was written…I mean why should they?!!

They don’t piss and moan to upset us. They are Empathy Golems.

Want to test the theory? While talking to someone pretend to yawn. If they don't yawn back....

1 comment:

  1. "Throughout life people do the most awful, selfish shit and genuinely do not realise just how much hurt it’s causing others….simply because they themselves cannot relate to it."

    The word you're looking for to describe this is 'solipsism'


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