Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Farewell PeeWee

Last week we experienced the loss of my daughter's pet ferret, PeeWee.  As my wife will readily tell you, I am not a "pet person", and, compared to my wife and daughter, she is correct.  Still, the tears I shed in the vet's office when my daughter and I made the decision to put PeeWee to sleep, as well as those I made in our backyard as we said our goodbyes and put him into the ground, were real.  Not necessarily tears for PeaWee and how I might miss him, but for my daughter who had lost both a beloved pet and a playmate.


Wikipedia defines Empathy as the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another.

We are in the midst of a very intense nomination process for the Republican party.  While I am not a registered Republican, I am following this process very closely as it is certainly possible, a 50-50 chance if you believe those who claim to know, that the next president will be from this party.  As I have listened to those with a vested interest in the nominee, I have heard many characteristics which a successful candidate should possess in order to gain the faith of the Republican voter.

Some extol the virtues of the businessman who can provide a plan to create jobs.

Some want a leader with a vision to make this century another "America's century".

Some prefer a fiscal conservative who will reign in spending and reduce our national debt.

A man of faith and values is sought by some.

An independent thinker who will shake up Washington is what others seek.

Economic knowledge, leadership, fiscally responsible, high values, family centered, independent.  Sounds like a recipe for a strong president.

Yet I wonder if the the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another, should also be a desirable quality in a president.

When I hear nominee Romney recount his days at Bain, the private equity company he headed, I am struck by the ease in which he was able to make decisions regarding the buying and selling, and/or break up of companies.  The fact that thousands of average working class folk lost their jobs with the execution of these choices while Romney and Bain made millions of dollars makes me wonder where his empathy is for the American family who is negatively affected by those choices.  Is "It's business, not personal" to be the catch phrase for our new president when he puts profit before people?

When I hear nominee Santorum defend his assertion that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an important step towards reestablishing values in America, I wonder where his empathy is for Americans who have committed their love and energy to another person only to be told that since that person is of the same sex, they cannot marry, they are not "kin" should a life ending decision need to be made, they cannot expect equal treatment under the laws of our great nation.  For them, the pursuit of happiness clause in the Declaration of Independence just does not apply.

When I hear nominee Paul disavow the letters sent out in his name that questioned the need for the Civil Rights Act I wonder where his empathy is for those Americans who were denied jobs, housing, education, etc, because their skin color was different. 


It is very easy to feel sorrow for those we love, those we agree with on the important topics of the day. But to feel empathy for those with a different economic status, a different sexual preference, a different skin color requires an advanced sense of compassion.  A presidential sense one might say.



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