The Lesson of "Happy Slapping" – Emotional Pro

May 19th, 2006

Today’s “front page” on AOL contains an article about “happy slapping,” the humiliating “game” of punching, hitting or slapping someone, unexpectedly, and having the incident filmed (with video camera or cell phone) and publicized on the Internet. Largely perpetrated by teens, according to this report, and inspired by several television shows, “Happy Slapping” got its start in Texas and is rapidly spreading across the country. It is also at epidemic proportions in England. Surely the brilliant engineers who developed cell phones with picture-taking capability (and my brilliant son-in-law is one of these), NEVER anticipated how this technology would be used for people to hurt one another. To date, one person has been killed in a “happy slapping” incident.
Everything in life offers a lesson, you say? What’s the possible lesson of “happy slapping?”
For me, it has to do with empathy, and how much of it people don’t have today. This no doubt varies from one group to another, and from one country to another, but our news media has for quite some time been reporting on heinous and senseless murders, torture, kidnapping, various forms of “rage,” etc. that reflect a lack of empathy. In my observation, there has been a marked decrease in our “empathy quotient;” any my Energy Sapping theory points to the reason why. Lifestyle manipulators are incapable of empathy.
“Happy Slapping,” and other reports of lack of empathy from one human toward another, directs our attention to what we are not teaching our children. Empathy has room to grow and expand when we help children leave childish, manipulative ways behind and move into responsible maturity. In my observation, huge numbers of parents are not doing that. “Energy Sapping” (manipulation) is normal. Every child who is born must “use” others as its “energy broker” in order to survive, not having the body or brain development to do so on his or her own. The infant needs the “energy broker;” without one, she or he will die. Yet, we define maturity as being able to “stand on one’s own two feet,” i.e., taking responsibility. The mature person has “wants,” but doe not “need” others to be or behave certain ways in order to survive. Clearly, a changeover must occur, wherein a child begins to take increasing amounts of responsibility, developing less and less “need” that “energy brokers” must fill. As part of that process, people lose their need to control others. They also develop their ability to see others as separate from themselves, something that is vital for empathy. The changeover begins at 3-4 years of age. If it isn’t completed, the person grows an adult body, but emotionally stays below age 3-4. Look around you!
If this “natural” process is thwarted or not completed, these “grown up bodies containing infantile emotional selves” people become what I term “Lifestyle Energy Sappers.” These are individuals whose primary way of relating in the world is manipulative. Such individuals are incapable of empathy, cannot see others separate from themselves, are afraid to be alone (even using cell phones, televisions, radio, iPods, etc. to keep in constant contact with something outside of themselves so they don’t feel alone at all), are controlling, see others as “bad, wrong or crazy,” need things to be done the way they need them done, etc. Such an individual is a shell of who s/he could be in life. Look around you. Our world is chock full of such people. When we, ourselves, are Energy Sappers, we tend to attract others who are also Energy Vampires.
How bleak and depressing is this? Not at all if you understand that the world is a giant school, that developing such individuals and having them devise such clear examples of their lack of empathy as “Happy Slapping” shows us draws our attention to what needs to be changed, AND we work to change it, then the situation is not bleak or depressing at all. Challenging, instead. Yet, we must develop the habit of asking ourselves: “What could [I] possibly learn from this?” Once we get a glimpse of the lesson, we can step up and learn it. After all, in this Giant School of life, the MINUTE we learn the lesson, we are finished with it. “Happy Slapping” could end as quickly as it has begun.

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