Some Things on My Mind: Pouring Empathy Down a Dry Hole

I truly am sorry that President Trump went to the hospital with Covid-19, and relieved that he is recovering. But my sense of empathy for a man without any sense of empathy cannot obscure the fact that Trump, his family surrogates, his FOX mouthpieces, and his congressional House and Senate sycophants have been complicit in the deaths of nearly 210,000 Americans.

The Republican neglect, their lying, their attacks on science, their mean-spirited take-down of anybody who voices the slightest critique of or disagreement with Trump have combined to create fertile soil for the seeds of pandemic. They only know loud and vicious attacks—never facts, just personal insults, ridicules and baseless conspiracy theories from the likes of Alex Jones, QAnon and other unmoored and extremely dangerous conspiracy nuts.

I long for civil discussions between people with different points of views. But I find being civil to people who embrace dangerous, baseless, hate-filled conspiracies difficult. And, I cannot tolerate those who parade through our city streets in military garb while armed with guns, knives and clubs. There has to be a line drawn between violence-producing conspiracy theories and free speech.

Dangerously Incompetent Leadership

The United States of America is inflicted with “dangerously incompetent leadership” that has “turned a crisis into a tragedy.”  That is the opinion of the New England Journal of Medicine. According to their editorial, “current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them” and Americans should “replace them.”

A Growing International Crisis

The New York Times reported that “the World Bank warned Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty this year. In a new report the bank said that 88 million to 115 million people will be living on less than $1.90 per day.”

Whom Do They Serve?

Republicans in Congress are eager to give a huge subsidy to airlines in order to prevent Covid-19-caused layoffs and financial losses, and I support this proposed action. But, while they are willing to bail out a troubled industry, Republican senators remain adamantly opposed to helping state and local governments and unemployed Americans who are losing their homes and unable t0 afford food for their families.  The Democratic House passed a relief bill last May that would have alleviated this crisis, but the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to even bring it up for discussion. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trimmed the House bill by half, President Trump pulled the plug and scuttled the negotiations.

John Danforth, Statesman

John Danforth, Republican, is a former US Senator, an Ambassador to the United Nations, an ordained Episcopal Priest—a statesman. He said, “The essence of our breakdown in politics is the mentality that I am right and you’re totally wrong. And because I’m so sure that I am right and you’re totally wrong, I’m justified in destroying you as a person.”

Hopeful Thought form David Brooks

“My intuition tells me, as does the polling data, that more people are paying attention (to the presidential election) and have recognized what’s before them and will make the right decision. Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward made the essential point: ‘There was always just enough virtue in this republic to save it; sometimes with none to spare.’”

I hope so! This election is a test of the American character. The president has called for Trump poll watchers –1600 in Philadelphia alone ­­­– who are being trained, according to the Trump campaign “to ensure all rules are upheld equally, all valid ballots are counted, and all Democrat rule breakers are called out.” The president’s son Donald Jr. called them, “An Army for Trump… the radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father.”

Convicted felon and Trump friend Roger Stone appeared on the Alex Jones Show, a forum for ultra-right conspiracy mongers, and stated that “all ballots in Nevada are already corrupted” and President Trump should nationalize the state police.

Let’s hope that Seward was right and that there is still enough virtue in us to save our nation.

Don’t Blame the Young People

I have noticed a tendency of older Americans to blame college-age young people  for spreading the virus–– accusing them of being irresponsible party goers. It is true that the latest outbreak of Covid-19 cases in ages 20-29 had the highest rate of infection. But not just party goers. Young people under 30 make up a large percentage of workers in retail, grocery stores, delivery, and restaurants. In other words, they are getting sick because they are doing jobs to meet our needs.

Instead of being judgmental about their partying and gathering, remember it is us—older adults—who set and enforce the rules. It is our age group that pushed to have the economy opened up—who pushed to have in-person school classes, who lobbied that college sports begin.

A Willingness to Understand

“When Biden explained in simple terms why it’s important to be kind — not just from the standpoint of individual relationships, but for the survival of liberal democracy — he hit upon something crucial. This form of government requires certain virtues, and a willingness to understand things from different points of view is one of them. I would argue that willingness to understand is a form of love, and one that isn’t easily inculcated into hardened hearts. Biden didn’t say all of that, of course, and I’m not sure he would endorse it. But he did set his sights on something much more critical, in that short speech, than specific policies or elections.”  Elizabeth Bruenig, The New York Times


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