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Sociopaths are not born. They are created by a process – created by choices which come out of decisions reflecting changing values.
Let’s illustrate. My Dad became a doctor 68 years ago. When people were surveyed asking, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” the answer was typically, “To relieve the suffering of others.” The motive was to help precious people recover from sickness and trauma.
What happens today when people are asked, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” There are still some wonderful people pursuing medicine because they have hearts of compassion, but many more are checking the box, “To get a good income.”
When you go to a doctor do you want them to think first, “People are precious,” or “Money is precious?”
As the profit motive subtly replaces the compassion motive the road to sociopathy has begun.
People become hardened to the feelings of others by gradations. No child sets out in life to gain a cold, corrupt heart. The lust for pleasure, power and material stuff gradually outweighs the value we have for people. Lust causes a friction of values which creates a callous heart. The thoroughly calloused see people as objects to be used to gain pleasure, or objects to be removed because they obstruct pleasure.
Just as the righteous arm themselves with weapons of truth, the wicked arm themselves with justifications which often appear as offenses and resentments. Meat may rot slowly initially, but the spiraling decent quickens as time go on.
Jesus said, in Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”
Sociopaths are love-less. People are blamed not esteemed. The attitude that “Laws cramp my freedom” leads to defiance. Most basic laws are created to protect others. In order to “function” without rules sociopaths must diminish the value of people so their consciences are not pricked when they take advantage of others.
THE DEGRADATION OF CULTURES
We know individuals degrade into sociopaths by a process. Cultures of people do the same when “systemic attitudes” of selfishness supplant the preciousness of God’s human beings. Cultures degrade as they see lawless, hard-hearted individuals. They may feel there is nothing to do about it, and then be conformed to the world, adopting the same attitudes, rather than putting up a standard and a fight. They yield to the negative gravity of depravity.
A HEART CHECK
All of us should run a heart diagnostic test. David prayed for the test. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23-24)”
Check the temperature of your love for others. What are the gauges showing?
What is the zeal-for-the-Lord meter displaying?
Is the furnace of your compassion hot enough to melt prejudice and offense, or has it cooled to luke-warm?
If the gauges are off we should be rightly alarmed. It may mean we have walked a distance down the sociopath’s path.
Don’t lose heart. Rather pluck up your courage! You can turn around, but you must do it quickly! Although Jesus said, “The hearts of many will grow cold” this does not have to happen to you and I. We may access grace even to love our enemies!
If we tend the fire of compassion for others, we can stall and stop the cultural crash and burn spiral into corporate sociopathy and anarchy. We can provide a model of righteousness countering the down-grade pathway. We can remind others of the inestimable value of our fellow human beings. Valuing others, even law-breakers, we become salt and light to redeem our culture.
The sociopathic depreciation of young children and seniors, and people in general can be reversed. Those on the road-rage path to utter callousness can be saved.
Fires go out when unattended. Let’s keep stoking the fire of our love for others, and become the disciples Jesus said we could become, so non-believers will say once again, “See how they love one another.”
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Rom 5:5
Steven C Johnson