Saturday, May 23, 2009

A note on American compassion

This story made me think:

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Investigators say a North Carolina woman did not want her elderly aunt to go with her to Disney World so she dropped her off at a homeless shelter.

Officials say Beverly Edwards dropped off her aunt Ruth at a Salvation Army Center in Bradenton.

The fragile woman who has medical conditions was left with all of her belongings in trash bags, and her niece said she was not coming back to get her.


"Do you have any intention of coming back for her?" asked Butler. "Oh, no, after we finish at Disney World we're going home. We can't take care of her anymore, I'm done," said Beverly Edwards, according to Butler.

In a recent episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, Maher said that besides the various economic instruments that caused the crisis, we have a greater spiritual problem in this country -- that we don't care about eachother enough.

The thing is, I think if you asked the average American whether they thought kindness, compassion, loving thy neighbor as thy self was a good thing, they'd probably instantly say yes. But there seems to be some kind of road block between this set of values we affirm and the kind of action we take.

I think part of it is fear. We're afraid that if we try to be kind, like we ideally want to, that we won't get anywhere. Nice guys finish last, as the saying goes.

But I think if we don't deal with this cancer soon enough, it'll end up finishing us off much quicker than the occasional unfortunate circumstance you'll find yourself in by being kind.

I think that's what Michael Moore's message with the film SiCKO was, and that's why I posted the end of the film up above in the clip.


Bryant said...

"[W]e don't care about each other enough." -- Of course, the stereotype is that some decades ago, we were more compassionate. Whether this is true or not, I don't know because I wasn't there, but it's an interesting point. Even more interestingly, as compassion has supposedly decreased, the government has grown considerably. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

"Nice guys finish last, as the saying goes." -- I think this is more in the context of dating. And in that context, it's entirely true. :/

Of course, unmentioned is that there's nothing compassionate about pointing guns at people. Virtue can not be acheived by pointing guns at the innocent. Unfortunately, this is the strategy used to pay for Cuba's healthcare system. Maybe that has something to do with why so many Cubans have fled their country.

Regardless, I think our problems--compassion included--are going to get much worse in the coming decades. Our 20-something generation is along for one hell of a ride. Who designed this ride? Our government, of course.

Zaid at UGA said...

I don't know if people were more compassionate now or any other time I wasn't around and I don't have a time machine :p

I don't know that people left Cuba because of the healthcare system, the WHO ranks it as the best in the developing world.