One of the phenomenon that one experiences being an extrovert on the spectrum is having the juicier details of the horror story that is my life told and people having an immediate and visceral emotional reaction. Given my worst bullying stories are physical and involve penises and projectiles, it is not uncommon that the heartstrings of various members of the public’s serotonin flood their brains and they become sympathetic. It is at that point, where they feel a nagging sympathy for my case, that many a doomed friendship has begun. They will, in their emotional haste, give me their number or email address, and agree to befriend me. This happens more and more intensely when I mention my lack of a social life. Yet, the serotonin, like all neurochemicals, is fleeting and they discover in the coming weeks or months that they have made promises that they don’t want to keep and eventually they usually ghost on me. There isn’t a politically correct way to platonically breakup with a disabled kid so ghosting is the easiest option.
I have written in an earlier article about my dark view of human nature and that is reinforced by much of the sympathy that I have been shown. That when humans do feel affection, it’s a cheap and shallow MDMA high where they feel fuzzy until the high is over and then lack the strength of character or honesty to either cleanly platonically breakup with me or to try and make the friendship work. They just run away cowardly, unable to admit their weakness and unable to face the truth of what they’re doing or what they did. It begs the question of whether or not the majority of human sympathy is like that. It seems to indicate that there are multiple types of empathy or, at least, two. A type that is shallow and where the individuals experiencing it are on the equivalent of a hormonal drug high and a deeper type which is concerned with the human condition and our relationship to it. A type that, in addition to sensational pity, feels honor and duty and appreciates the macro themes of human love more than the micro themes of a human love that are little higher than lust.
Maimonides, famously, in his treatise on charity said that the higher forms of charity are passionless and given out of emotionless and abstract moral duty. I would not concur. I believe the higher forms of charity are of great passion, even fiery passion. What the higher forms of charity are not is possessing the traits of base passion. The passion felt should be that of participating in the broader cause of humanity and that of satisfying the expectations of oneself as a moral agent and a citizen. The baser forms are what one feels when one sees a posterchild that affects the acute emotions. And while that is a good marketing strategy for attracting people to altruistic causes, it is not the noblest reason to join them or remain in them. Maimonides, like myself, was an Aristotelian and a theologian, and he was right in the idea that love is a commandment to be obeyed and honor makes one more fully human but he failed to understand that at the higher levels that the abstract is emotional but that the emotions are more sophisticated and deep than the animalistic whims of a serotonin high.
The sadly numerous people who briefly came into my life in a drunk haste and ran away in cowardice lacked many ethics. Whatever they possessed in a propensity to cry over abused puppies they lacked in any real moral courage. Our politics is largely based on scandal and sensationalism and our candidates are vetted on the basis, not of their characters, but of their social records and whether or not committed any offense that might draw tears from the torrential emotional weather of Middle-America. It’s petty and for all its feigned morality, lacks a moral core. The questions are seldom asked of whether they are honest and whether they entered the political profession for altruistic reasons and whether they have the competence and compassion to carry out the office well.
In the end, having been the subject, repeatedly, of sensational pity and it usually having just proven to be an empty mask of morality and seeing a similar course of events in politics, I believe that our society needs to ask itself about its values and how it broadly defines empathy and character. So we can recognize what is truly good and build a society that loves each other with a deep love and not a charity lust. So people’s characters are not assassinated for minor faults and the sum of their souls are counted, instead. To remind people that crying over a posterchild does not count as sacrifice and that unless you’re willing to sacrifice for what you believe in, including keeping promises that you don’t want to, then that’s not morality. That’s just a serotonin high. If our society is to improve then it must redefine the ideal goodness that it seeks to improve into.