These are the opening lines to Waste S.K Orr's thought-provoking reflection on sensitivity and tenderness, emotions to which most modern people react with a strange blend of amusement and scorn. After I read the lines above, I asked myself why modern people equate sensitivity to sappiness, gentleness with mawkishness, and sympathy with delusion?
I surmise much of it derives from a lack of real contact with Goodness, Beauty, and Truth. We live in a world where everything has been inverted - evil is seen as Good, ugliness is regarded as Beautiful, and lies are celebrated as Truth. When these inversions are accepted and internalized, actual Goodness, Beauty, and Truth are viewed as excessively and objectionably sentimental or outright ridiculous, perhaps even insulting.
Modern people prefer a different kind of sensitivity - hypersensitivity inspired mostly by platitudes based on notions like equality, diversity, inclusivity as well as social/political issues such as human rights, racism, sexism, transgenderism, etc. This hypersensitivity breeds resentment, outrage, anger, and grievance, all of which relentlessly rail against the injustice of an imperfect world. Modern hypersensitivity claims to be motivated by the Good, the Beautiful, and the True, but nothing could be more removed reality. In actuality, modern hypersensitivity is purposefully opposed to Reality. Its sole aim is the subversion of Reality, which is why modern people find true sensitivity that is attuned to and aware of Reality so repulsive and sickening when they encounter it.
Sensitivity attuned to Goodness, Beauty, and Truth encompasses gentleness, warmth, fondness, friendship, benevolence, courtesy, and, above all else, love. Seen is this light, true sensitivity is one of the pillars of religious thinking - more specifically, Christian thinking. To be sensitive is to be aware, to recognize, and to know. It's about being receptive, perceptive, attentive, appreciative, and wise. Sensitivity also forms a large part of the romantic temperament, which our muddled and comatosed world so desperately needs to recapture. Sensitivity is often a sign of consciousness that is alive and active in a world of loving creation full of purpose and meaning.
Yet most modern people will have none of it, and treat sensitive people with disdain and distrust, regarding them as little more than weak, delusional, overemotional fools. Though this may be true in some cases, in most cases sensitive souls are anything but weak and delusional, as S.K. Orr goes on to explain his post:
"I have worn the uniform of military service and I have heard shots fired in anger…I have fired at living human beings myself. I have assisted physicians with patients who are screaming and bleeding and thrashing about. I have provided care for mentally ill adults, some of them quite dangerous. I know what it sounds and feels like when a hand grenade explodes within 50 meters and peppers my flak jacket and helmet with shrapnel. I say all this not to provide some dubious bona fides for smirking strangers online, but to provide perspective, because I realize that I regularly express thoughts that make me appear to be a doe-eyed, emaciated, hypersensitive little artiste who feels triggered and needs safe zones and perhaps wears pajamas with feet in them. I am in many ways a hard-eyed realist, but I am also a man who wants to kiss ducks on top of their heads and who worries about thirsty cows and who says prayers for the deer he sees on the side of the road and who rescues spiders and crickets from offices and carries them outside to the grassy medians."
Contrary to contemporary belief, true sensitivity is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. It is the mark of a tough and realistic individual fully invested and involved in Reality.
Do not be afraid to display sensitivity and all it encompasses. And if it happens to inspire derision, wear the derision as a badge of honor marking your understanding and recognition of Goodness, Beauty, and Truth.
Read all of S.K. Orr's excellent post at Steeple Tea, here.