Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

While Washington burns and the pols fiddle around, it’s time to pay attention to a few other deficits that have remained unnoticed in the media furor over Boehner, Barack, and Big Bucks.


There was a time in this country when American politicians were civil to one another. They’d go to work, argue, and then repair to the nearest pub for some congenial elbow bending. Not now. Congressmen feel free to shout, “You lie,” to the president while he is giving his constitutionally-mandated State of the Union Address.

This open breach of respect is only one example of a strain of behavior that has infected the American public to a degree unknown in previous eras. Fueled in large part by the anonymity afforded by the internet, it isn’t unusual to find the vilest comments in response to blogs, newspaper articles, and television reports. Hate merchants become millionaires by screaming their odious messages 24-hours a day over radio and television. Hate sells, which I find to be the most disgusting element in our disappearing ability to communicate coherently in a civil manner. Is it any wonder the Congress has entirely lost its ability to function as the Constitution intended?


We seem to have lost a sense of empathy for those among us who are less fortunate through no fault of their own. Children always come to mind when I think about helping others. Every year in this country there are roughly 3,000,000 reported cases of child abuse. Millions of children in this, the richest country on earth, go to sleep hungry. This is a disgusting state of affairs.

Our treatment of the elderly and the infirm is no better than our disdain for the welfare of our children.  There is a move underway to reduce or eliminate social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, whose primary beneficiaries are the elderly. Imagine a million seniors suddenly without the means to buy groceries, pay rent, and afford medical care. We seem to forget that those receiving social security checks aren’t banking those funds for a rainy day. They are spending the money immediately on the basic necessities of life.

Also at the top of the scale of disgust is our treatment of veterans, Americans who have put their lives on the line for the draft-dodging elites among us and who as a result now suffer excruciating physical and emotional damage. Some in congress want to reduce the minor amounts of funding now available for veterans’ care and rehabilitation. How cheap, how low, can American elites go in the treatment of the very individuals who have protected their way of life?


Contrary to the American myth of the rugged individualist, cooperation is the social mechanism through which we develop great ideas, initiate powerful governing concepts, and accomplish great tasks. George Washington didn’t win the Revolutionary War single-handedly. Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves all alone. The Greatest Generation did not act individually when they slogged through foot deep mud across France and Germany. They did not run around like chickens with their heads cut off as they hopped from Pacific island to Pacific island toward Japan.  Imagine the chaos if everyone had said “It’s my way or the highway.”


The clearest sign that we’ve lost the ability to sustain the greatness of prior generations and achieve greatness on our own is the chaotic inability of governments at all levels in this country to function as governing bodies rather than as ideologically programmed lock-step un-dead hordes. Ideology today is the bane of our existence. It allows no room for dissent or for the accommodation that is necessary in a democratic political system. The two-party system isn’t much better, but it at least it recognized an essential need for accommodation.

Can We Recover

Yes, but change requires courage, determination, and common-sense. Thinking men and women must come together in a concerted effort to dislodge the ideological and monied interests that have taken control of our once-sacrosanct representative democracy.

We need to abandon the one-dollar-one-vote philosophy of the current Supreme Court and return to the one-person-one vote practice that formed the basis of our democracy before corporations became people.

Most of all, we need to realize that we are all in this together. Adam Smith once postulated that when one prospers all prosper. We need to believe that when one suffers, we all suffer. We need to become a unified society rather than an atomistic bunch of anonymous rugged individuals. Perhaps John Donne expressed it most succinctly.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee—John Donne

I am convinced that a renewed recognition of our unity would cause the mess in Washington to disappear in a puff of smoke            


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