At times, I have been accused of being… umm, robotic? A potent cocktail of realism, sarcasm, and skepticism has led more than one person to believe that I have no feelings or that I lack empathy or that I am bereft of basic human compassion.
This fails to explain why I cry twice every time I watch Schindler’s List. It fails to explain why I tear up every time I listen to the soundtrack from The Pacific. It fails to explain the fog of emotion and reflection that swirls around me at the end of the Mass Effects, Bioshocks, or Spec Ops: The Line. Or why I can’t look someone in the eyes while telling them how important they are to me for fear of breaking down.
I am an emotional person. I just try very hard to control it and even harder not to show it. Thanks, German farmer upbringing!
This is why I write the day after the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard. When I first heard of the attack, I felt… nothing.
No anger. No sadness. No anxiety. No righteous indignation.
And I hate myself for getting to this point. The point where I can go, “Meh. We want guns? This is what we get.” Or “The chickens are going to come home to roost when we ignore the factors that lead to violence.” The point where the violent deaths of twelve people are less a tragedy and more an argument for the inexorable nature of trade-offs or cause and effect.
I want to be skeptical without becoming cynical. I want to question everything without giving up upon receiving the same answer over and over. Fundamentally, this is what cynicism is and does.
If I’ve fallen off Cynic’s Cliff on the topic of gun violence, is it possible to climb back up? I hope so. Cynicism feels so empty that I can’t help but hate the forces that pushed me off the ledge, but only almost as much as I am disappointed that I failed to put up a bigger fight.
But hey, at least I’m feeling again.