Cold is The New Cool: A take on why empathy is so unfashionable

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The world that we live in today is a mess. This rock that we all call home is slowly transforming into a hostile wasteland filled with toxicity and all things bitter. As though it were a change in tide, people are growing weary of optimism. Each day, our eyes are bombarded with new images of war, suffering and destruction. Hope is languishing under the weight of defeat.

As my generation turns twenty-one, we are awakening to an earth that is in dire need of repair. But as we watch the world around us fall to its knees, we too are falling victim to a powerful force – that force is Cynicism.

It is not a stretch to imagine that personal political opinions function a lot like the way that the fashion industry does: there are trendy beliefs that are here for a second and gone in the next. There are figureheads that are boosted to stardom by waves of adoring supporters, then booted to the curb after a mere misstep, resulting in a tumble off of the catwalk and subsequently, out of the hearts of their most loyal followers. Indeed, people acquire and discard opinions as though they were garments to be worn as a statement to be made to other people. We aspire to become one of the masses; to be accepted.

In this sea of uniformity, there are a few trend-setters. There are people who still believe in optimism. They know that the world is crippled, but they also know that positivity still thrives somewhere at its core. They are the people who are digging to find it. At the heart of each of these individuals, they are idealists.

The masses would most likely refer to themselves as realists. After all, it is not possible for any single person to successfully play a part in shifting global attitudes away from oppression and inequality; to lead us towards something much brighter (such as Martin Luther-King who was, incidentally, just a man himself. A man that led a successful, history-altering movement). No, these were the actions reserved only for other people, not for the realists.

To the realists, idealists are misguided. Idealists think with their hearts too much. Their relentless pursuit of all things good in the world is simply impractical and frankly somewhat naïve. Realists are the grounded ones. They will leave it up to the idealists to live in the clouds.

To the realists of my generation, showing compassion is the emotional equivalent of wearing Crocs. It is political suicide. But here’s what I say to my fellow idealists: You wear your heart on your sleeve. Do so as though it were the ugliest pair of Crocs on this earth. We may not be respected for our decision to choose kindness over other far more practical options, but our equal love of all people is more real than any figures or any global solution. We may live in the clouds, but at least we dare to dream.

Oh, and if/when someone calls you a Social Justice Warrior because you made the unpopular choice, just know this: You are fighting for something that matters.