In a Sense

Humans have five primary senses.  They are touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste.  Have you ever imagined being without one of these senses?  If you lost your sight you wouldn’t be able to enjoy any more sunsets.  When you ventured out you would feel a sense of insecurity, not able to see your surroundings.  If you lost your hearing you wouldn’t be able to hear choirs sing or hear the birds sings or hear someone close by call out for help.  Our sexual drive, driven by hormones is fundamental to human behavior and the sex drive is primarily influenced by our sense of touch.  What would life be like is we lost our sense of touch?  Our sense of smell alerts us to dangers like fire or spoiled foods.  Very few of us haven’t taken something that has been in the refrigerator too long and smelled it before eating.  I would miss the smell of the fresh air after a rain, the fragrance of spring flowers, the scent of perfume or after shave as someone passes by.  I guess the sense of smell is also connected with the sex drive.  The World Atlas says “The sense of taste was incredibly crucial for the evolution of humans since it gave us the ability to test the food we were eating.”  If we lost any of these five basic senses our lives would be very different.  I have a sense of appreciation that I still experience all of these basic senses.  I have a deep sense of admiration for those who have suffered a loss of one or more of their senses.  For me I think I would choose sight as most important and taste the least.

If you google “secondary senses” you will find other senses that humans possess pressure, itch, equilibrioception, thirst, hunger, time.  Then there are emotional senses like joy, trust, sadness, anticipation, anger, envy, empathy, love.  This is not an exhaustive list of emotional senses.  In researching for this article, I found one website that listed 27 emotions experienced by humans.  Now I ask you to imagine a life without one of these emotions.  What would your life be like if you lost the sense of trust or joy or anger or love or empathy.  Okay, losing our sense of anger or envy might seem like a good thing but even those senses have some value.  Anger can sometimes inspire us to act against injustice.  Envy can become the driving force to achieve more.  But for me the one emotional sense I have trouble imagining life without is empathy and a very close second is love.

My normal Sunday morning routine is to respond to my 6:00 am alarm and turn on CBS Sunday Morning.  It is informative, provides both historical and current perspectives on a wide variety of topics but I enjoy the show primarily because it inspires and invokes a wide range of emotions.  I am writing this article right after watching Sunday Morning on July 19, 2020.  The show featured the lifetime of contributions to America by John Lewis through his dedication to civil rights and the non-violent movement.  I felt a sense of empathy for Mr. Lewis for the beatings and mistreatment he received in his quest for freedom and equality for all Americans.  Another feature was the story of the small town of Tenino, Washington which has responded to our current economic woes by printing its own money, on wood.  They take wooden nickels.  It provoked a sense of compassion and empathy for the plight of its citizens trying their best to survive day to day.  Another featured Steve Derrick of Clifton Park, New York who when he paints a portrait, there's no such thing as a touch-up. He includes every bruise, bag and blood vessel. Steve completed portraits of hospital workers who have been so heroic in their response to the pandemic.  The feature shows the emotional responses of the workers viewing the exhibit.  Steve says their reactions have “left him wealthy beyond words.  Perhaps my favorite feature was the virtual choir piece.  Literally thousands of people singing in isolation, by themselves and through technology combined together to make the virtual choir.  Music evokes emotions in most of us. 

I cannot imagine living without these emotions.  They are fundamental to my existence.  I can imagine living without material things.  I can imagine living with blindness or deafness but not without emotion.  Unfortunately, there are those who have mental limitations that rob them of their ability to feel some of these emotions.  Our President is one of those unfortunate ones.  Mary Trump, the President’s niece, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, has given us in he r new book a granular portrait of Trump’s profound impairment.  She says that her uncle has all nine clinical criteria for narcissism, although she insists that this diagnosis is only the tip of the psychological iceberg  He may also suffer from antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, and/or dependent personality disorder, along with an undiagnosed learning disability that likely interferes with his ability to process information.  Donald Trump is lethally dangerous, stunningly incoherent, and pathologically incapable of caring about anyone but himself.  Donald Trump is highly manipulatable by those who praise him.  We simply cannot tolerate another 4 years of a President who has never felt, who is incapable of feeling empathy for others.