Archive for April 28th, 2020


“Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.”

― Dean Koontz


I’ve never read a Dean Koontz novel and don’t really know much about his work, outside of them mainly being in the thriller/horror genres. And though I couldn’t find which book the words above were from,  I liked his pointing out that so many of the qualities of the intellect that we admire mean little if they are not accompanied by compassion and empathy.

I’ve been writing this blog for over eleven years now (yikes!) and over that time I have often written about what I see as an empathy deficit in this country. Too many of us tend to not be able to recognize the hardships and problems of others, to see only how things relate to us personally. We seem to, more and more, have an inability to imagine how it might be to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else.

Maybe it’s always been that way and I’m just a little late to the show. That could well be the case. But I don’t think so. There’s been an increase of self-centered behaviors and a coarsening of our attitude towards others that is easily observable. Someone acting like a participant on an ugly reality TV show that would have once appalled us is now acceptable behavior..

It’s all I-got-mine now. Winners and losers. Chumps and champs.

Our president*** is but an ugly reminder of this new normal. A symptom that was inevitable.

You see it in his self-aggrandizing attitude and his “the world revolves around me” narcissism. But it’s his total lack of empathy that irks me the most, personally. For example in the totality of his daily briefings during the covid-19 crisis, he has devoted less than 4 1/2 minutes out of more than 28 hours to expressing any concern for the individuals who have fell victim to the virus. Most often, his time was spent patting himself and those around him on the back, saying what a terrific job he is doing.

Little mention of the lives ended or of those living, the families and friends, who have been affected by these deaths.

It’s not that he didn’t have an opportunity. Between March 26 and April 26, one month, approximately 54,000 Americans perished due to the virus. That is an enormous tragedy for these families, for the health workers, for their friends and for this nation. Each of these 54,000 is a story, a life filled with moments of love and laughter, sadness and loss.

He is without empathy, without true concern for his fellow humans. He doesn’t have the ability to place himself in the shoes of others, to a walk a mile in any other person’s shoes.

Whatever it takes, whatever it costs in human terms, to stroke his huge fragile ego is never too much. Take the West Point grads, for example. They have long been dispersed from the campus and plans were under way for a remote virtual commencement ceremony. But this selfish thing decided, without consulting the Army officials, that he would be speaking at the commencement in June. As a result, 1000 grads are going to have to return to West Point, be tested there for the virus then be placed in quarantine for 14 days on campus, all for the vanity of this thing and the fawning adulation he craves so much.

He doesn’t give a damn for the peril in which he places anyone, for the lives he burns through. We are all expendable accessories to him.

Not lives. Not families. Not individuals with feelings and futures.

No, we are assets to be used. Fodder.

Okay, I got off on a tangent there. But it still is in line with the message this morning. We can only measure our success and survival to the extent that it reaches down to the most vulnerable among us. In order to do that, we must be able to see the struggles of others, to envision ourselves in those  same struggles.

We don’t have a leader than can do that so it’s up to us to make the difference needed.

Let’s try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes for once.

Here’s an old song from Joe South from back around 1970. You don’t hear much about Joe South anymore but he had a nice string of hits in the late 60’s/early 70’s. I always liked this song. Here’s Walk a Mile on My Shoes.

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