The Sunday night TV lineup has become one of my (Nikki) favorite rituals that Ben and I have as husband and wife. We make dinner together and watch shows after. Our TV shows are mostly dramas that provide a “settle down from the weekend” and “prepare for the week”. How zombies could be involved with settling/calming I don’t know!
Every week we get through 3-4 shows back-to-back. I’ve noticed a trait I have is that I take on the emotions and struggles of characters. Many times between shows we will have to pause and do a reality check. Example: My name is Nikki. I live in Fresno. I’m married to the amazing and handsome Ben. Sometimes a character is so BAD i.e. horrible and if they’ve wronged my favorite character and keep up that path of horribleness sometimes I wish for the TV show to produce something/someone to kill them. A hero (heroine), perhaps. This is a TV show, I know. But why is the solution to kill them?
I borrowed a few books from friends in Fresno (thanks Brendan and Emily!), one of which is The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World, an interview of the Dalai Lama by Howard C. Cutler, MD. While on a plane I was reading the chapter “Violence Versus Dialouge” and came across some words that made me think differently about the power of anger and hatred when not combined with empathy and effort to educate on the full view of a situation when someone has been wronged by another.
“The second main danger,” the Dalai Lama continued, “is when the label ‘evil’ is applied to an individual or group of people, it naturally sort of demonizes that person or group. Once this kind of perception takes root, a process of dehumanization takes place. They are seen as subhuman. And if we no longer see the person as a human being, as someone like ourselves, then we have no common ground. They are seen as subhuman. And without common ground, there is no basis for empathy to arise. The end result of this is that it opens the door to justifying any injustice done against them, any horror, any atrocity, even genocide.” – Dalai Lama
This excerpt is part of the section “The Root of Violence” which details many levels of root causes of violence. The above quote is based on internal causes. But that can very easily be exaggerated or oversimplified to hatred of a person, or group, seen as “evil”.
So, what’s the point? To me, it serves as a reminder that empathy is important even for characters in tv shows who are just such meanie heads. And to not let these thoughts extend into your reality. Don’t look at anyone as subhuman. Bad people are out there but there is more to the story.
Cutler, Howard C. “Violence Versus Dialogue.” The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World. By Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho. New York: Doubleday, 2009. 145-46. Print.