The Cause (And Cure) Of “Cruelty Sickness”


I’ve tried to put my finger on what I think so many of us are feeling out there. It isn’t outrage. It isn’t anger. It’s isn’t grief. It’s something else.

I think it’s the exhaustion of “cruelty sickness.”

I sense a corporate emotional weariness: the accumulated scar tissue created when you’ve absorbed more bad news, predatory behavior, and attacks on decency than your reserves can manage. There’s only so much contempt for humanity our minds are able process, until one day something snaps and we lose the ability to respond with the same urgency and resilience we once had.

A low-grade hopelessness sets in, slowly replacing our activism with apathy and one day rendering us immobile. Sustained cruelty will do that to the human soul.

Prolonged exposure to seemingly tireless barbarism begins to rob us of energy, to dishearten us to the point that we stop caring and opt out. This is of course, by design. That is what those manufacturing this incessant enmity are counting on. It’s cruelty sickness.

The fatigue of decent humans is the plan: inundate us with a million tiny crises, assail us with countless daily culture war battles, and batter us with endless legislative assaults—until we are gradually but decidedly crushed beneath the weight of it all.

So what do we do? What do kind people who are sickened by cruelty do to get well? We tether ourselves to one another.

Now, more than ever, good and tired people need to cultivate community, to stay connected to our tribes of affinity, and to carry one another through the fatigue when it comes.

We should surround ourselves with people who value us not only for the work we do and the causes we support, but for the inherently vulnerable beings with finite resources that we are; those who demand that we rest and encourage us to play and give us space to pause—so that we are not consumed by the brutality of the day.

Community is an elixir for the soul, and we need such good togetherness medicine more than ever, because we are exposed to more toxic trauma than we’ve ever been, and because the war against disparate humanity isn’t going anywhere.

Injustice, inequity, discrimination, and suffering are hazardous to the hearts of good people and they should be. Stay together, stay alive, and stay kind.

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