Empathy is the answer to the question that has plagued America since the inception of the colonies. Empathy is what every American needs, yet only a few seem to grasp.
We need to find the ability to look our fellow countrymen in the eyes and see the pain that they experience—the pain their ancestors experienced in our country at the hands of those that we memorialize in statues and in our history books. We were taught to honor the men with swords in their hands even if those swords fell upon the necks of those who had almost nothing, just so we could take what little they could give.
America seems to be at the final boiling point because of this lack of empathy. The plague of deaths because of the hatred of someone’s skin color, or who they love, or what they pray to has never been cured since the first slave was brought to America, or the first gay man was persecuted, or the first Native was shot. America has never been about helping the people. It’s been about people slowly taking back the rights they lost.
All of this history, yet we still seem to be in the exact same place. We still have people take the side of a cop who abuses his power to kill someone who looks different than him. We still have people that walk into nightclubs and fire a gun on innocent lives just because those lives were born gay.
We still have people that will slaughter in houses of God because someone reads a different scripture than they do. We still have Americans that won’t wear a mask to save their own grandparents.
But the minority of the “empathyless” are the ones that make the news in such vicious ways. The majority are just those that are passive in a lack of caring—those who thrive in a system that routinely holds those who are different down, a system made for the rich, for the white, for the privileged.
Yet these same people who benefit will look into the eyes of those with their necks trapped under the boot of such a system and say that it’s all made up. These privileged are the ones that truly lack empathy. They can look into the face of a man with the knee of a cop killing him and say he should’ve respected the uniform. They can hear the cries of the poor that have no food for their children and no medication for their parents and say the socialists are driving us to ruin.
These do not carry empathy in their hearts. They have never changed perspectives. These are the people who built America on the backs of slaves—the people who saw the sacred mountain of Natives and decided to carve the faces of slave owners into the side of it.
People hear the cries of those being persecuted in their own land and point toward the few that set fires. These are the people that lead America down the path of France, down the path of Cuba, down the path of revolt.
When people can no longer see through the eyes of their neighbor, they truly are not human. Empathy is the only thing that can make us experience the world outside of ourselves.
We must have citizens that care—citizens that want to understand the plight of the few, the plight of the disenfranchised. Yet we seem to have fewer and fewer. We must be able to look through the eyes of every other American to truly be able to fix a system that is utterly broken.
We must feel the indignity of even the most distant citizen as powerfully as we would feel a slight against ourselves. That level of empathy is the only way America can be saved from itself.
By: Jackson Futch, Opinion Editor