Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Voting for empathy ... The future. We can do better than than this."


Government Bureau, by George Tooker (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Either you sympathize with other people.
     Or you don't.
     That's it.
     That's our entire political moment right now.
     The rest, as Hillel said, is commentary.
     So here's mine.
     The key word in the first sentence is "other." Other people, different from yourself. Because empathizing with yourself and those exactly like you is easy.
     And ineffective.
     Tribalism was fine when humans lived in tribes. Building the modern world required putting aside prejudices and working together. Those who found it within themselves to say, "You know. . . this guy might be black ... but he could actually be a soldier, a professor, a quarterback. Let's give him a try" did better. Societies that made the leap did better.
     Lose sympathy and you suffer. Britain fled the European Union because enough Brits were convinced that membership meant a Turk might move in next door and, oh I don't know, do Turkish things. Smoke a hookah. So they blew up their own economy.
     We're next. The Republicans are at war with The Other: immigrants, Muslims, gays, Jews, blacks. Anybody who doesn't meet their hidebound notion of what an American should look like.
     The truth isn't on their side, so they lie, rationalize and blame-shift, while drumming up bogeymen to distract voters. It's happening in every race. Pick one one:
     The 6th District, Republican Rep. Peter Roskam against Democratic newcomer Sean Casten. Once, Roskam would be merely a bland GOP non-entity, endorsed by the NRA, calling climate change "junk science." The usual.
     Now the stakes are higher... 

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  1. I live in far NW Cook Co. And that mope Roskam is my congressman. I voted for Casten on Sunday, hoping I get better representation. (Even though Casten's a central DuPager as well.)

  2. When Republicans were trying to pass the so-called "American Health Care Act," which would have repealed Obamacare and left the uninsured to the mercy of the "free market," Roskam not only fled Washington, he refused even to answer his phone.

    That should tell you everything you need to know about the man. He's been walking a tightrope about Trump for so long, the soles of his feet probably have rope burns.

  3. How fortunate I am to have come along 300,000 years into the age of Homo Sapiens, born in the greatest city, in the most magnificent country in the world. Plus my family practiced the one true faith, ensuring my placement at the right hand of God, as I am also White and heterosexual. Had I come along 25 years later I'd have avoided the last days of barbarous dental practice, but otherwise I am perfect. Lucky me. And what were the odds that with the other survivors of the thousands of religious faiths, mine would have an express elevator to Heaven. Too bad Neil, that your ancestors didn't acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. If only Dan Savage knew what it was like to be me. But he cannot, anymore than I can know what it is like to be Black in America. When I am falsely accused I get a taste, but I can never really know the daily struggles of the many "others". Accepting these facts is part of living in a civilized society. Society, the root word for Socialism. We band together to grow food, defend ourselves, protect the water and air to ensure our survival. Living in this society enriches us all, but like the bumper sticker proclaims "Democracy means you don't always get your Way". So too in any society. Walk a mile in my shoes , Peter Roskam, and get off the Trumpian path while you're at it. At least come out and talk to your constituents every so often, while you can.

  4. Beautiful writing, sir. Thank you so much.


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