The Republican senator from Ohio, Rob Portman, recently announced that he now supports gay marriage. Why? Because his son is gay and he would not want to deprive his son of this right.
Zerlina Maxwell in a televised debate, expressed her disdain for the idea that women should arm themselves to protect themselves from rapists as opposed to the idea that, as a society, we should do something to end a culture that allows women to be objects. To end a culture in which men commit such heinous crimes. In other words, instead of telling women to arm themselves, we should actually do something about the root causes.
Over at The Belle Jar, a blogger wrote that she is not a wife, sister or daughter. She wrote this in response to the outrage over the assault on a drunk teenage girl in Stuebenville, Ohio, that finally resulted in guilty verdicts for the perpetrators. Well, at least some of them. We will wait and see what happens to all those who witnessed the attacks and did nothing.
On a different scale, I sat in a hearing yesterday involving the development of High Speed Rail in California. At one point, somebody who opposes high speed rail pointed out that in a recent hearing, a Congress member from Maryland refused to vote for additional funding for HSR in California because “why would the residents of Maryland care about HSR in California.” That’s paraphrasing, by the way, and not a direct quote. Hopefully, you get the point, though.
What’s the point of all this? What does it have to do humanity? More importantly, what does it have to do with compassion and empathy?
Rob Portman, if he was truly a compassionate individual with empathy for all, would have concluded that gay marriage is the right thing to do without having a son who is gay because he would recognize that it doesn’t have to affect one of his loved ones for it to be the right thing to do. What Rob Portman did was demonstrate the worst in tribalism, of provincialism, of narrow-mindedness. Either it is right or it is wrong. It suddenly doesn’t become right because it impacts your son.
What Zerlina Maxwell had to endure demonstrated the absolute and utter lack of humanity. The total lack of progress in this country regarding a very simple fact. That a rape occurs is not the woman’s fault. Ever. The brutal attacks on her character. The threats sent her way. Stunning in their lack of humanity, lack of compassion, lack of empathy, and lack of a recognition that we are all human beings first, second, and last.
And the Stuebenville assault and this idea that somehow we should view the victim as if she was our wife, daughter or girlfriend? Why? Why must it be necessary to identify a victim as comparable to somebody we love to feel empathy and compassion? The idea that anybody reading the reality of what happened to that girl could only feel such emotions if they could relate it to a family member is stunning. Shocking.
And, again a totally different scale, the idea that Maryland voters shouldn’t care about something happening in California? Narrow-minded. Provincial. Tribal.
It’s about humanity. It’s about how we, as a people, how we as human beings, progress and grow. How we all achieve peace and security amongst each other? The idea that something is only right or wrong depending on how it impacts my family is not humanity. It is not compassion. It is not empathy. It is selfish tribalism at its worst. It’s why we continue to divide rather than unite.