Thoughtful Thursday: Misanthrope
February 7, 2013
Welcome to the February Intelligentsia.
#40: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#34: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#33: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#32: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#22: St. Elsewhere
#20: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#15: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#15: Sara from Aryanhwy
#4: Mina from Kmina’s Blog
I almost never dislike anyone. Well, except for disliking everyone.
My father is not only an introvert masquerading as an extrovert, he is also a misanthrope masquerading as a philanthrope. One of his greatest strengths professionally is his charm, but he’s totally pretending. I think he actually loves humanity, except when he doesn’t.
My husband is totally a secret misanthrope too. I’ll often hear him mumbling, “I hate everyone,” or, “People are horrible.” People who interact with him, though, think that he is kind and gregarious. Because he iskind and gregarious. He just doesn’t think much of humanity.
DH’s father is a not-so-secret misanthrope. He is tremendously warm and engaging to people he likes, but he’s not keen on making new friends nor on superficial social interactions. He succeeds professionally not through charm but through an air of authority (as well as being good at what he does). Being crusty is part of his schtick, but I really think that it’s genuine, much of the time. I have to wonder whether being the son of Survivors contributed to his lack of faith in humanity.
I am also a secret misanthrope. I like individual people, and I dislike other individual people, but outwardly I project the image of someone who truly wants to help other people. Because I do want to help, and I do help. But I also send venting emails to my closest friend or husband that consist of things like, in all caps, FUCK EVERYONE. Unlike the loved ones that I’ve just described, I actually have a lot of faith in humanity, but that doesn’t mean that I want to put forth the effort to actually interact with most of humanity. And, I’ve been burned enough that my lack of faith feels warranted.
Not everyone I know is a misanthrope, of course. My mother loved to meet new people. She didn’t trust new people, but she liked them. She had such a soft spot for the needy and the downtrodden. She’d do things like buy a crate of fruit that was more than she could possibly eat, explaining that she would share some with “my homeless guy next to the mall” or “all of the guys working at the car wash.” She never gave any panhandler a dime, but she’d feed them and clothe them and speak to them with a smile.
One of DH’s siblings is, more than anyone else I’ve ever known, a true humanitarian. A decade ago, when she was 13, we were visiting a relative in a rehab hospital. An scruffy amputee was slowly trying to propel his wheelchair down the hall. Everyone else kept walking past. She stopped what she was doing to help him get where he was going and fill up his water pitcher. But more than that, it was the way she spoke to him. Sweetly, gently, looking him in the eye, like a person. Most 13-year-olds seem to avoid eye contact even with people they’re supposed to talk to, let alone someone who makes most people deeply uncomfortable, but she dealt with him as an equal — not kid to adult, nor able-bodied to handicapped — because in her heart she truly believes that everyone is her equal. She has been the kind of kid who worries her elders because she is so trusting, so good, that she seems poised to be taken advantage of. But, so far, treating everyone with genuineness and respect has resulted in nothing but good things coming back to her.
People like her are almost enough to cure my misanthropy. Almost.
Are you a misanthrope? Philanthrope? A mix?