I figured it was time to revisit this one topic. It was one of the first I wrote during the previous incarnation, and I know I can't hope to match its eloquence. Still, it must be tried. After all, I do feel a need to explain myself. After all, I do walk through life calling myself a misanthrope.
And there always seems to be a strangely odd stigma attached to misanthropy. Not the same kind as with misogyny or misandry, but it is there; we simply don't talk about it as much. And why would anyone? If a misogynist, a misandrist, and a misanthropist see each other in a bar, it's more likely that the misogynist and the misandrist will tear into each other while ignoring the misanthropist as they sit silently in the corner.
So, let's start at the basics.
As far as definitions go, misanthropy is the hatred, dislike, and disgust of humankind. To a misanthropist, things like race and gender aren't quantifiers of their disdain, but the mere fact that you are what you are: Human. If you focus purely on the negative, you can see plenty things to drag someone that way of thinking. It doesn't make you forget all the beneficial things we have under our belts, just discount them. After all, how good can they be if we focus as much attention, if not more, on the things that can separate and destroy us?
But I take exception to that definition; primarily the “hatred” part of it. I fully believe that you can maintain a sense of misanthropy without having hate come into the equation. Speaking only for myself, I feel that hatred comes along only when you consider something or someone completely and utterly beyond redemption's reach. While I will agree that there are some out there, in the past and in the current moment, who fall into that... I can't push all of humanity into that little corner.
While in our history we have waged war upon one another, successfully or attempted to eradicate certain cultures, create technological horrors capable of killing thousands upon thousands in mere moments while condemning thousands upon thousands more to slow and agonizing deaths, divided ourselves for reasons of faith or skin color or where we call home... we have created things of awe-inspiring beauty and amazing complexity, expanded our minds through scientific discovery and philosophical contemplation, extended our lives through medical breakthroughs brought on by selfless individuals who thought of their fellow human before any manner of profit or fame.
We have, to paraphrase Carl Sagan, waded out into the cosmic ocean and beheld its wonders, in hopes of traveling further.
Even in the face of monstrosity and self-inflicted miseries, the human race as a whole is far from irredeemable... we are just confused about what truly matters in the whole of existence, both ours and the universe's. As a species, we have only been alive and active for a handful of millennia; hardly the blink of an eye in the face of cosmic time. We are, all of us, children acting upon impulses that we still don't fully understand, in spite of our understanding. We are a species of fantastic, unrealized, potential. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.
I still mistrust humans. I can't not. We are too easily swayed by powerful voices. Voices that only have power because we allow them to. We give in too quickly to fear and anger. We look for something to direct it towards and we turn it on ourselves in the form of our black neighbor, the Jewish shopkeeper, the awkward science-fiction enthusiast. We fear ourselves powerless and so we exert ourselves on anyone with the slightest difference in appearance, thought, and/or belief.
But as I said, we can't entirely help it, because we are only children.
We like to think we know better, but we don't.
And until the time comes that we do, I can't help but feel as I do; disappointed and disdainful of my own kind, and ashamed that I am forced to count myself among you. Because even I don't know any better than you do. Yet I remain hopeful that humanity will change my mind in the long-term.
As I finish this, I recall that when I first wrote it, I considered my type of misanthropy to be “Misanthropy Lite.” Now that I revisit this and wonder if my view has mutated some, I have to wonder how “lite” it actually is.
So, now that I'm finished trying to wax philosophical with you, help yourself to some HAPPY CUPCAKES!
|Source: Retro Bakery|