When I was a young teenager, my family and I went to a friend’s house for a party. My mother sorted the recycling from the rubbish, as she did, and told the husband he should be recycling.
He made fun of her, in front of his daughter and myself. They both laughed that anyone would want to “grub through” the rubbish to pull out the recyclables.
It’s easy to make fun of the bleeding hearts
This was not an isolated scene. My childhood is studded with incidents of my mother insisting that the welfare of the planet was everybody’s responsibility. Largely, she met with ridicule, because it’s easy to make fun of people who declare their convictions out loud.
Is it because people are annoyed that they have to disagree with others who speak up? Or that the think it’s outrageous to believe your personal opinion is worthy of being publicly aired? Are they embarrassed?
Is it easy to ridicule the bleeding hearts because it makes the bleeding heart vulnerable, which makes people feel uncomfortable, or even a little scared?
It’s easy to make fun of the bleeding hearts because when you declare your beliefs and principles out loud, it’s a short step to pointing out inconsistencies in beliefs and poke holes in reasoning.
When you have idealistic beliefs, you will necessarily be a little hypocritical if you are an active participant in a broader society and perhaps, even, live in a big city with all the compromises (and joys!) that this entails.
We need the bleeding hearts
We need people to declare the interests of the collective over the interests of the individual, even when not all parties in the collective agree. We need the bleeding hearts to make us uncomfortable and push us not to settle. We need the bleeding hearts to set the bar high.
We need the bleeding hearts to make art that moves us and to believe that making something beautiful is a worthy pursuit, because it’s the only thing they can imagine themselves doing and to not do so would hurt.
We need the bleeding hearts to run businesses that are there for the long haul, not the grab-‘n’-dash. Bleeding hearts who recognise the impact of their business goes beyond their clients, but reaches families and friends of their clients. Who treat seriously the impact of their business on their staff, and their families and friends, as well as all the businesses that these people frequent.
We need bleeding hearts in business who don’t think about treating people ethically and compassionately but take this for granted. We need bleeding hearts who are always striving to do better, to tweak and adjust, to change and evolve and share this within their business, so that it incrementally transforms the very way they do business, not just what they offer. We need bleeding hearts who are willing to be seen, to express their values, and to give value through business knowing that they’ll reach and influence far more people this way. We need bleeding hearts who know that ridicule is part of living, and that it’s really not important at all.