The Empathy America Misses

October 29, 2018

Two grandparents in Kentucky were killed in a grocery store last week by a white supremacist. Another white supremacist killed 11 people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. A man was arrested on Friday for sending more than a dozen IED’s in the mail to prominent political figures. This morning, a retired St. Louis City police officer was killed during a robbery attempt. In Charlotte this morning, a high school student shot and killed a classmate after an earlier fight between the two.

Oh, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series again. And fantasy football owners (some gamblers included) are a little miffed at Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley for not scoring a garbage touchdown against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. I’m sometimes amazed and disappointed at my ability to keep track of the tragic and the trivial, what’s important and what’s immaterial.

It hurts that two grandparents could survive the worst of Jim Crow only to be murdered by its remnants decades later. I feel for my friends of the Jewish faith who are always looking over their shoulders for the next person or group of people who blames them for every ill in their own lives. I’m concerned for my friends on the police force who stand as the wall between community and criminality – and bear the burden of a society that often doesn’t see the difference.

I worry for my wife in the midst of #MeToo backlash. I worry for my only child, who is matriculating her way through high school as I write. I worry about what I’ll become if anything…let’s just say don’t, America. Just don’t.

The lives of those lost don’t disappear like the scenes in a movie. They have family and friends who will miss them and a world that could have been better with them in it. America has never been long on empathy. We change through strife and time. The problem is strife causes injury and time, for people, is finite. Empathy, on the other hand, takes very little time and is comparatively painless. It only requires us to see the humanity in others and place ourselves in their shoes.

Everyone shops for groceries. Millions of Americans, regardless of religion, visit houses of worship peacefully each and everyday. From the most challenged public school to the most affluent private institution, every parent wants their child to learn as much as possible, and do so safely. We should be able to do all of this, in addition to cheering for our favorite sports teams without fear of being killed by our fellow Americans, no matter what their grievance is.

We are Americans and there are many paths to prosperity. One of us may choose a city street, another may take an interstate highway and the third may prefer a country road. None of us are wrong as long we empathize with another. We will thrive together or we will perish together. We are all on the same team. Let’s try acting like it.

 

 

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