Wednesday, June 07, 2017

When Did Compassion Become a Four-Letter Word?

I am disgusted right now watching America teeter on the brink of becoming a place I don't recognize. There is so much selfishness on our political landscape, and it feels like it is seeping into many other areas of our lives. We have turned our gaze to our own navels and are making decisions based only on what is best for me - the rest of the nation be damned. And in truth, we've chucked civility out the window with it. Why not? If I'm only concerned about me then why should I bother respecting anyone else's views? They are likely wrong to begin with.

Well, I don't want to live in that world. I don't want to be part of a nation that calls itself "great" while refusing to see what is actually wrong. I don't want to be part of a nation that brags about itself to the peril of it's citizens. The emperor indeed has new clothes. I want a country that knows it is broken and is working to fix that. I want a nation of people who still recognize the human dignity in one another and share a common purpose in the American Dream. I want to live in a place I can be proud of again.

When did we become a country that finds it appalling to care for our disenfranchised? When did we become a society that is only out for itself? It's disturbing to me that the majority of those promoting such egotistical policy are people who claim to follow Christ. Or at the very least they are part of the citizenry for whom morality played a large part in casting their vote. And yet the selfsame voters are willing, even lobbying, for laws and executive orders that take away the very thing that has made our country great: treating our citizens with human decency. We have been called to love our neighbors and instead our country has taken up the mantra of the toddler: mine, mine, mine. This self destructive worldview needs to stopped it in it's tracks. It's not making our country or it's citizens great.

What have we become, that this nation finds it acceptable to leave so many people out in the cold? We choose to close our eyes to the circumstances that created an oppressive system and then shout, "help yourself!" at those clawing to get out; pretending that it's not our problem. We are an industrialized nation founded on the principle of compromise, a nation that rallied together to send men to the moon, a nation that has created solutions to myriad problems, and yet, we cannot find it in our hearts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, to supply life saving drugs to people who need them, and to generally insure dignity for all. Where has America gone?

Giving dignity to others does not take away your own. It's not a slice of cake; it's not finite. No, dignity is a renewable resource. It just keeps growing. In fact, dignifying others is what made Mother Theresa's work so great; it's what spurred the abolition of slavery; it's what allowed us to be a nation if immigrants; it's what provided so many Americans with a solid education. You want to make America great again? Dignify the humanity of others. Remind yourself that you have been able to survive (maybe even thrive) because of the opportunities afforded you. We are all looking for opportunities to become better humans. When you offer your compassion to your fellow citizens you make this country a better place. When you get out of your precious bubble and actually risk loving others (by giving them health care, by offering up an education for everyone, by feeding the food insecure, by mandating hate crimes legislation), you are making this country the land of the free and the home of the brave. You are fostering life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is what it means to be American.

It is an embarrassing time to be American. As for me, I am going to keep fighting for the dignity of my fellow Americans. And I would encourage you to do the same. We need more, and we deserve better than this.

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