Wanted: Empathy & Compassion for All

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I read/saw three things today that set off a combination of rage, sadness, and confusion from within me. Let me give you an overview of what I read/saw and then I will provide insight to my competing emotions around these events.

This morning, while eating breakfast, we had CNN on in the background. They were discussing a video that has gone viral. The video depicts a young girl beating another young girl. CNN’s discussion revolved around the girl holding the camera and questioned whether she will have charges brought against her. The conversation also began to acknowledge how awful it was that the video was going viral, being uploaded to sites all over the web. CNN even quoted the victim’s mother stating that every time the video is uploaded or viewed, her daughter is being re victimized. And yet, CNN found themselves “above” the hundreds of thousands who have viewed this video on the web as it quickly was uploaded to numerous popular websites. They proceeded to show the video before referring to a legal expert who would shed light on the girl holding the video camera. I refuse to link to this story in attempts to avoid perpetuating the viral video and re-victimizing the girl who was beaten.

Somehow, I managed to keep CNN on (muting it as they continued to cover the horrific story explained above). The coverage then switched to discuss how Republicans are receiving training on how to talk to women and gain women voters. A montage of clips was shown to demonstrate the need for this. Women “shutting that whole thing down” during rape; rape and pregnancy from rape being “all apart of God’s plan“; binders full of women. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, was asked by CNN if he thought the GOP was good at talking to women. First, he responded with something along the lines of “we have a lot of great Republican leaders who are women,” (19 in the House out of 232, to be exact), and the CNN reporter interupted him, repeating the question: “Are you good at talking to women?” He quickly changed his response to “bring it home” to his daughter, a senior in college, saying:

“She’s off now thinking about her next step in life, what kind of career or job opportunities¬† are available for her,” he said. “Well, I don’t believe that racking up trillions of dollars of additional deficit and debt are a good thing for her because, ultimately, what that does is it mortgages her future.”

Perhaps this deceived some as a genuine answer showing respect and acknowledgement of women in his life. But CNN went on to report on the training the GOP is receiving.

“First and foremost what we tell them to do (is) talk about yourself as a husband and a father,” this source told CNN, adding, “After that we urge a blanket statement about rape is abhorrent: ‘Anyone who is charged with this offense should be fully prosecuted, and as a husband and father I am outraged.'”

Lastly, Rick Santorum is spewing ignorance and outrageous comments yet again. Did you know that Nelson Mandela’s fight against injustice throughout this lifetime mirrors the Republican party’s quest to stop Obamacare? I can’t say much more “objectively” about what I read. Read for yourself.

Within approximately 3 hours, I was faced with these three events. My rage, sadness, and confusion have led me to recognize that producers of CNN, the GOP, and Rick Santorum, all lack empathy and compassion. They lack the ability to relate to human beings. To place themselves in another’s shoes and try to understand his/her experiences, feelings, or thoughts. When I try to put myself in Rick Santorum’s shoes, my sadness prevails. I become sad that he views the world in such a narrow, priviledged, short-sighted manner. I am sad that no one taught him compassion or the importance of empathy in making relationships and being successful. When I try to put myself in CNN’s shoes and try to consider their rational for showing the video of a young girl being beaten on national TV, my rage prevails. CNN is made up of intelligent, educated, and well-informed individuals. Sure, I don’t agree with all of their view point. But they know right from wrong and should have the common sense to not show a video that they are subsequently arguing is re-victimizing the victim and discussing how abhorrent it is that it’s gone viral. Shame on you, CNN. When I listen to the GOP discuss how they need to get better at talking to women and learn to be sensitive to women, my confusion prevails. Having to train a room full of men who hold a lot of power in the United States government on how to talk about women, how to be sensitive to things like rape and abortion, and how to relate women’s issues to the women they love in their lives boggles my mind. It is so disingenuous and condescending. It is ridiculous to know that men representing this country need a lesson on talking to women. When the idea came about to offer this training, I am confused why someone did not say “perhaps we get rid of everyone who requires this training because quite frankly, ya shouldn’t be in a leadership position if you need it.” Cantor wasn’t being genuine about his daughter’s experiences relating to policies the GOP proposes, he was just regurgitating a line he was fed during a training on how to talk about women. I am sure he loves his daughter very much, but due to him and his party’s lack of empathy and compassion, he had to exploit her and her future for the benefit of “gaining women voters.”

I am unsure where we lost compassion and empathy along the way. I think it is tucked away behind Facebook statuses, Instant Messages, and text messages. It’s blurred by the constant access to information about bad things in the world. It’s lost in desensitization and normalization of violence, discrimination, and inequality. I am desperate to recover it and instill it in everyone’s being. But where do we begin?

 

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