This Saturday, a man went into a Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo, NY, and shot ten people dead in what appears to be a racially motivated crime. This massacre, the latest in an endless stream of violence, is a reflection of our world. Brutality is engulfing not only the United States, but the entire world. There is senseless killing in Europe, senseless killing all over the Middle East, and in Africa. Even where there isn’t senseless killing, there is abundant, systemic abuse of people, from modern slavery through human trafficking to abuse of power. At the end of the day, it is only people who make other people miserable. If we could only change our ill-will toward each other, we would change the world.
How many times have our parents told us to be nice to others, to play nice, to be kind? And how many times were we actually good because they told us to? Just as children often hold on to their toys and do not share them with anyone, we are becoming increasingly child-like egoists in our behavior.
We were not always that selfish. Previously, people from the same family, and even from the same village, truly felt that they belonged to one another. There may have been struggles over social statuses, but there was no desire to humiliate for the sake of degrading others. Today, even siblings often take pleasure in humiliating one another.
The human race is constantly evolving. The more it develops, the more people are learning that they are governed by egoism, and that it is driving us all into a chasm. On the one hand, everyone wants to live in a nice neighborhood with nice and quiet people around. On the other hand, our own nature is creating an environment where we cannot trust our co-workers, our friends, or even our families.
The good news in all this negativity is that now that it is out in the open, we are realizing who we really are, and this is the first step toward correction. We have come to a state that people cannot stand the existence of people they dislike, for whatever reason, so they pick up arms and shoot them.
And what is true of people, is also true of nations—between nations and within nations. They want to control each other, oppress each other, and dominate each other.
But we are in a different time now. What worked before will not work now on any level—individual, social, national, or international. Today, only those who want to help and support others will succeed. Nations and people who oppress, bully, and violate others will fail and fall.
These days, those who want to succeed must learn that our mutual dependence requires that we become considerate of others. Even if we do not like others, the simple realization that if I am inconsiderate, it will hurt me, should be enough to change our behavior toward others. Following our actions, our hearts will change, as well, but we should not expect this from the very beginning. If not today, then tomorrow we will all learn that we need not be considerate or caring because we actually feel this way, but because we want to survive.
Once we adopt a considerate behavior, we will realize that its benefits far outweigh its flaws. When people are considerate, they create an atmosphere of consideration which reflects back on those who embed it in the society. Just as inconsideration hurts the inconsiderate, consideration rewards the considerate.
Interdependence means that whatever you inject in the system, this is what the system gives you in return, but many times over. If you inject negativity, it will destroy you because the society will “throw” your own negativity back at you, but many times stronger. If you inject positivity in the form of consideration, care, support, and mutual responsibility, these positive impacts will reflect back on you, but again, many times stronger than you injected into the society. This is how every closed system works: the feedback amplifies the input many times over.
Therefore, if we want an end to such hate-filled violence as the Buffalo massacre, if we want to end senseless wars raging around the world, we must learn to act as one, interdependent society. It may not be easy to convince ourselves, but reality has its painful ways of persuasion. I think we would all prefer a more peaceful, mindful way of changing.
A man is detained following a mass shooting in the parking lot of TOPS supermarket, in a still image from a social media video in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 14, 2022. Courtesy of BigDawg/ via REUTERS