Lets Talk About Empathy

Image taken from Buffer.

Chris Cornell passed away recently and my Facebook feed was flooded with people expressing their grief. Its amazing how musicians influence us that their death can sometimes bring such a big impact in our day to day lives. I saw people sharing their favourite tunes, some people spoke about how his music had such a deep impact during their childhood days, some posted videos of them driving around the city listening to Audioslave and Soundgarden songs. It was all very heartwarming to see. I have never really been much of a fan. Not heard too much of the music, whatever I did, I liked but this whole incident didn’t affect me like it affected most.

Apart from these posts, there was this one post by this musician which really angered people. Here it is :







People were offended and what followed were a slew of comments from many many people. Some asked him how he could say something so insensitive, some supported him, some went to the level of making fun of Chris Cornell’s wife and kids and some tried to explain the entire situation to him in the most civilized way possible. Nothing would change this man’s views. Suicide is for pussies he said. I wasn’t really pissed about it. People sometimes are left so disillusioned with their life experiences that they build strong defences around their beliefs, which prevents them from ever looking at it from a different light, to an extent that even doing that becomes a sign of weakness. The stakes are made so high that admitting ignorance is not a choice anymore, and hence getting different perspectives on the issue not only becomes unnecessary, but something meant “for pussies”. That is a human being willfully stopping himself from learning and broadening their horizons in lieu of the security of a non-changing belief system. It is a very primal, survivalist, fear based approach to living. I used to do this with certain genres of music. Where  I was so close minded about them that I would openly ridicule them and talk bad about them and make fun of people playing those genres. Then I realized that so many people felt so differently about them and they would enjoy them as much as I would enjoy my favourite genres of music. There was no point ridiculing these people or making fun of them, you just had to accept that people around you have different tastes and you have to just respect their choices and move on in life. This approach made me grow as a musician and as a person.

Firstly, I am no expert on depression. I honestly know very little about it. I have had my ups and downs in life but I have been able to manage it by talking to friends or by myself without any medications and I found exercise to be a great way to always feel good and keep myself motivated. I have had a serious relationship with a Bipolar2 woman and I have myself gone to a psychologist to learn a thing or two about how the human brain works. So I have very basic knowledge about this. I wouldn’t wanna insult people with mental illnesses by giving my two cents. I’m writing this to talk to you about empathy.

That said, if mental illness was as simple as this guy made it sound like then the world would be full of happy people. It’s often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression. (full article)

In today’s world where it’s so easy to form an opinion and just vomit our thoughts on social media, we forget that our actions have consequences. This man who made this post public has over 200 likes on it. He is an influencer on social media and that means that people actually follow him and pay attention to what he says. Some of these people are my friends and some in particular are young kids who can easily get influenced by this behaviour. It’s absolutely important to understand that making fun or being insensitive towards other people’s sorrow or misery is an act of cowardice in itself. I am not asking you to change the world, I am simply requesting you to think before you do something. Think of the reaction of your action. I don’t expect this guy to change but I do believe that some of you who will read this will realize that all humans are different and have different states of mind, internal struggles, and different ways of trying to cope with them. We need to respect that and try and live a life of dignity and balance rather than trying to portray insensitivity as masculinity, or completely give in to emotions and end up with life long persecution complex. If you got yourself to read through this article then I hope that it gave you something to think about.

In the video below, Joe Rogan (UFC commentator and Martial Artist) and Jocko Willink (retired Navy Seal) speak about Chris Cornell and depression. They both are into extreme physical exercise and I think they fit in the “masculine / macho” men category. They both admit they don’t understand depression at all but they are respectful and they just give their two cents about it. In my opinion this is a better approach then shunning down people with different thought processes. They talk about exercise and the positive effects it has on your thinking. This is not a cure for depression but just their approach to feeling good about yourself.

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