I saw a tee shirt that, I think, was supposed to be funny. It said: "I used to care but now there's a pill for that."
I didn't laugh. I don't think it's funny. I think it's kind of true. I feel that we're losing the social contract we have with society and with each other. That unspoken agreement that we are all human, we are all in this life together, and that we all need to watch out for each other.
The other day I spoke with a woman who, due to a serious injury, had to use a wheelchair for a couple of months. She said that what shocked her was both the annoyance that people had as she struggled to get around and the sense of purposeful invisibility that people had to her needs. Doors not held, space not made, time not given ... all of these things combined to give her a sense of desperate hopelessness. She said that she hadn't noticed the lack of compassion in our society until she was of a need of it. Her fear is no longer of using a wheelchair, she conquered that skill and got handy at getting around, her fear is of the social status and the demeaning manners that she will face should she ever come to rely on a wheelchair.
I did not find that I could comfort her with anything more than stories of the every day incidents of kindness I experience. A long time wheelchair user once told me that having a disability gave him an evolutionary social advantage: it was an arsehole detector. Kind, genuine people were easy to spot and stood in stark contrast to those who were not. In a way, I think that's true. Just today, while travelling and stopping to get lunch, a woman very kindly offered to help when I nearly dropped something. Later that same day a dad with his son helped me out spontaneously. Three people in one day helped in a way that didn't diminish. How cool is that, knowing that they are there? Of course, I met way more, way way more than 3 people - but I choose not to focus on the rest.
As disturbing as it may seem to realize that there is 'a pill for caring', it is equally disturbing that someone would choose to advertise that fact. The desire to anesthetize oneself from compassion of course is a desire to be rid of social responsibility for another. Particularly other others. Those whose numbers aren't listed on your cell phone, those who aren't in your email address book, those who don't 'like' you on Facebook. Those other others, who make up the stuff of society, who have expectations of mannerly interactions and friendly commerce are so demanding.
Maybe someone should, and I think this is a terrific idea, invent a pill for indifference.