emotional illiterates, and a note to myself

“I’ll tell you something banal. We’re emotional illiterates. And not only you and I — practically everybody, that’s the depressing thing. We’re taught everything about the body and about agriculture in Madagascar and about the square root of pi, or whatever the hell it’s called, but not a word about the soul. We’re abysmally ignorant, about both ourselves and others. There’s a lot of loose talk nowadays to the effect that children should be brought up to know all about brotherhood and understanding and coexistence and equality and everything else that’s all the rage just now. But it doesn’t dawn on anyone that we must first learn something about ourselves and our own feelings. Our own fear and loneliness and anger. We’re left without a chance, ignorant and remorseful among the ruins of our ambitions. To make a child aware of it’s soul is something almost indecent […] How can you understand other people if you don’t know anything about yourself?”

– Ingmar Bergman

This really gets to me. I find myself looking at people and not seeing people anymore. I’m ashamed because I look at them like their only purpose is to be useful. I hate that. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to measure people by how much they can give me, by how much I can take from them. I hate it. I’m ashamed. Is it because of the constant drilling of my econ classes to view people as mere input choices? Something that can be easily substituted, viewed as objects to ‘optimize’? Is it because of my lack of emotional literacy? Is it because of the premium on productivity we so value now? Because I can’t. I can’t handle it anymore. I’m ashamed, ashamed, ashamed. Chili, learn to put others before yourself. But putting them before you means to open yourself up to understand them. And if you open yourself too much you won’t know what’s coming in and out. So try to know yourself. Look inside, so you can give.

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