Empathy is that tendency which tends to defy the rational self-serving instinct within us. It's a brilliant shadow of our former, undefiled nature. It is a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, rarely seen, yet powerful in action. Empathy moves us deeply to identify with the plight of our fellow man. It sees the darkness of the world and recoils in horror. It laments the loss of the good and decent virtues and longs for restoration to that time which feels as hazy as the dream we were rudely awakened from.
Self-preservation is innate as well, it is part and parcel to our corrupted nature. It is concerned with ourself first and foremost. We place our security, comfort and interests in the highest esteem at the expense of others. This instinct is alarmed by the state of the world because it threatens our personal wellbeing. It sees the system as beneficial to the few and duly recognizes that when it all collapses it will be at the expense of the many, of which we are a part.
Two opposite drives of our nature, both distinctly provoked. I believe this is why others choose to bury their heads in the sand rather than to become driven to use their time purposefully, working diligently toward creating proactive change. The world is overwhelming, yes, but I believe grief can be the initiant of great action.
Sorrow, though unpleasant, moves the heart and mind much differently than joy does. It affects our actions in profound ways. It causes us to rush to the aid of the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those less fortunate than ourselves. Without this sorrow, we will be content to live as we always have, insulated in a cocoon of concocted consolation.
My wife struggles when she sees me feel this weight deeply, and I understand why; but the problem lies not in the natural reactions, hardwired into the very fabric of our being, but rather the choice to turn away and deny that there is the possibility to affect change. A wise man, whom I greatly admire, once said that 'The cause of justice is both a march and a dance.'
My generation has been taught that dancing is the primary rule, and that marching is out of the question, yet to live the cause of Jesus we must march. We must face the darkness unflinchingly, though it may wear our souls thin, and cause our hearts to run ragged. Our savior sustains us in this heavy legwork, and tends those needs we cannot fill on our own. The greatest moral failing of the Church in our time is that it has largely shied away from hardship in the interest of gaining membership.
As I choose to see this world in its entirety, I am prepared to accept that weight, the responsibility and duty I have to live beyond my Self. The joy, I've had my fill (more so than I deserve), this dying world demands our seriousness as much as our jubilance.