Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

The problem-solving process: Compassion should not be a competition

Milam's Musings, milambc@miamioh.edu

The United States is a nation of finger-pointers and reactionaries built upon the need for one's side (re: team) to win.

When New York City officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in an ambush by Ismaaiyl Brinsley Dec. 20, 2014, the head of the police union, Patrick Lynch, said Mayor Bill de Blasio had "blood on his hands."

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani added to those sentiments, saying four months of propaganda, including from President Obama, inflamed hatred of the police.

It doesn't take much further Googling to find conservative pundits and the like also blaming Black Lives Matter for any violence against police and worse, calling them a hate group.

When a Planned Parenthood was attacked Nov. 27, 2015 by Robert Lewis Dear, killing a police officer and two others, progressives blamed the rhetoric of pro-lifers.

Jeet Heer, senior editor at The New Republic, Tweeted, "Shorter GOP: Just because killer believed in & repeated our lies about PP, doesn't mean we are responsible."

A Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus was headlined, "Republicans deserve some blame for the Planned Parenthood shooting."

"Extreme rhetoric combined with falsehoods tips the balance toward greater culpability," Marcus said.

When terrorists coordinated a devastating attack on Paris Nov. 13, 2015, it ushered a week's worth of conservative fervor over why the United States can't accept Muslims because Muslims are bad people.

Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, openly suggested shutting down mosques in the United States and wouldn't rule out compiling a database on all Muslims.

And now, as recent as the San Bernardino shooting Dec. 2, progressives are engaging in what I call empathy huffing and puffing, implying conservatives have blood on their hands for not doing more to prevent these mass shootings and, therefore, just must not care.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

That's a lack of good will (and obviously, as my other examples showed, conservatives lack the ability to distribute good will to their ideological differs, too).

Anyone with a heart cares and is saddened by senseless violence. A difference in how best to respond to a problem doesn't necessarily indicate a difference in empathy.

In the aftermath of the shooting, The New York Daily News had a new cover reflecting this attitude with big bold, white letters that said, "God isn't fixing this," with the subheadline, "As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes."

I'm assuming that cover is based on the GOP presidential hopefuls, such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and others, who all Tweeted similar sentiments of "praying for the victims."

I'm not a religious person, but are we really going there? Do we really need to revert to prayer-shaming?

Gina Ferazzi, an LA Times photojournalist, posted to her a Twitter a photo of evacuated workers from the San Bernardino shooting. They stood in a circle on a golf course across the street from where the shooting took place and they prayed.

I guess they ought to have been protesting and pushing for some new gun control measure that obviously and most simply could have prevented the shooting, instead.

A sure-sign that someone is in reactionary mode rather than rational mode is when they've reduced a complex problem to a simple solution.

For one example, CJ Werleman, an op-ed columnist for Middle East Eye, tweeted out:

"When we Australians prayed for gun violence, we had 1 mass shooting per year. In 1996, we banned guns. No mass shootings."

Aside from my other issues with that Tweet (such as the lack of context to "banned guns"), is the apparent ease with which Werleman thinks the U.S. could and ought to duplicate the Australian model.

We've had 14 years of reactionist policy-making wrapped up in hysteria in response to the threat of terrorism. I'd rather not see that played out with respect to the relatively rare phenomenon of public mass shootings.

So, while I'm not praying, I am offering caution in how we approach policy. Does that mean I don't care about the victims of the San Bernardino shooting? Does blood fall onto my keyboard as I type this?

Finger-pointing and the blame-game, looking for a connection between rhetoric and violence and empathy one-upmanship is not constructive.

We continue to talk past each other, misunderstand each other and most importantly, assume bad intentions in the other.

Sometimes, like with Trump, there's enough unambiguous language there to assume those bad intentions, but for the rest of us normal human beings? Giving your ideological differ good will is the foundation for listening and therefore, problem-solving.

Humans are a stubborn lot and politics has become that game of "my team vs. your team." Combining those two things creates an unwillingness to even want to hear what the other side is saying.

I don't care about winning or losing. I care about what the truth is.

I don't care about "my team" or "that team." I care about what the truth is.

I don't care about trying to find a way to blame my ideological differs for far-reaching complexities. I care about untangling those complexities and finding what the truth is.

Seeking scapegoats instead of the truth is the surest way to a closed mind and a self-righteous mouth.

Comments