One theme that presents itself over and over again in human history is that during times of great stress – famine, war, natural disasters – the capacity for empathy in general suffers as people attend to their own survival. That’s why stories about people rising above catastrophes make us feel so good – because we realize that it’s special, and admirable, to rise above one’s own pain to care for others.
So when we have tremendous failures of empathy, I tend to look for the tragedy driving it. And right now, I don’t see it.
We are who we lead. If the Republican Party doesn't want to be considered the party of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and bigotry, it must stop catering to those who embrace those values.
How does any thoughtful woman reject the concept of feminism? After all, feminism is simply defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Not better than, just equal to.
That sounds right and reasonable to me. Would anyone argue that we should not have the right to vote? Should we not be safe to walk in the streets, able to rent an apartment or buy a home without the co-signature of a husband or father, eat in a restaurant unaccompanied by a male? And I have yet to hear one reasonable explanation for the fact that women in the United States still earn 73-cents to each male dollar.
People are resentful that radical jihadi terrorism has caused us all to live in a Code Orange world. Women have been living in a Code Orange world for a long time. Sometimes you figure it out when you’re really young, and you carry that wariness and those high cortisol levels around with you for the rest of your life. Other times, you don’t realize you live in a Code Orange world until your boyfriend beats and rapes you over buying the wrong kind of beer, or a stranger yanks you into the bushes on your college campus. But eventually, most women come to realize that we live in a Code Orange world.
Ask me what I am
My answer depends on the time of day
Surely I cannot be all these things at once
My daughter has two children and is pregnant with her third. She’s also works full time as a nurse, and she just returned to school to become a Nurse Practitioner. She’s really busy. I go to her house on Wednesday and Friday mornings to take care of the kids, and while I’m there I’ll do things that need doing. A load of laundry. A sink full of dishes. Whatever I find.
This drives my daughter crazy. She appreciates it, but she feels like I shouldn’t be cleaning her house. She says, “You do too much already.” Then she says the thing that really matters – as if I needed her to explain herself: “I don’t have time to do it all, so I let the things sit that can wait, and I don’t do the things that don’t need to be done. I’m OK with that.”
Yesterday I shared the following post on Facebook:
“I just read that there is not one Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election who accepts the theory of evolution. How can this be true? This is the worst thing I read all day.”
This statement elicited a number of responses, one of which was this:
I didn't watch the Super Bowl yesterday. It's just not my thing. Normally it would have been on at my house, because my wife is a rabid football fan, but we respected Super Bowl Silence this year since she's still bruised over the Packers.
I was peripherally aware that Katy Perry was doing the Half Time show. She's a talented young lady (though not an artist I follow much), so I assumed it would be entertaining. Yet, when I looked at my Facebook feed at the end of the day, all I saw was Katy Perry bashing. A lot of it. People - adults - complaining that she's not talented, she's an offense to music, she’s worse than every other available singer, and that the NFL was stupid for hiring her. How tiresome.
I often find myself thinking, “What the hell is wrong with Texas (or South Carolina, or Kansas . . .). But after I think that, I feel ashamed. Yes shame. Strong word. But it’s apropos, because one of the hallmarks of small mindedness is clumping people together with generalizations.
Besides, I know and love people from all of those places. So I happen to know that for every dim-witted, racist, anti-poor, anti-Muslim, fundamentalist Christian thing that Texas or Kansas do at their State Capitals, there are thousands of right-thinking people in each of those states who are deeply pained by the action. In fact, I suspect (based on polling data) there are more people in each of those states who disagree with the way their legislators are behaving than who agree.
Republicans Play This Game Better
So why is this happening?
This year Pope Francis washed the feet of women, the disabled, prisoners, and non-Catholics. A symbolic and archaic act to be sure, but no less radical now than it was 2,000 years ago. To wash someone's feet is to submit yourself before them; to say that you are no more important than they are. I am not a Catholic, but this act of humility speaks to me; it inspires me.
I spent the past week in Las Vegas at a trade show. I saw many acts of kindness, friendship, and even love. Trade shows can be such an exciting time as friends and business associates across an industry gather together for what may be the only time each year. But trade shows are also a microcosm of the world we live in, and if you are aware, you will see many instances of jockeying for power and position.