Advertisement
  •  

Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsElephant in the Room

Empathy needed after election

In my second column, published in February, I expressed my concern with the rise in popularity of Donald Trump and detailed how he lacks conservative values. Over time, I’ve written about the candidates we need for office: I made my case for Gov. Kasich, urged the GOP to dump Trump and criticized Hillary Clinton for her comments on the Supreme Court. Nine months later, these are my final thoughts before Election day.

This election has changed our national discourse in ways that couldn’t have been predicted even four years ago. For over a year now, our nation’s worst qualities have been reflected on the campaign trail, and Nov. 8, Americans will decide who the next leader of the free world will be. While the campaign advertisements may end, our fractured republic will remain. So we must find ways as a society to heal the wounds inflicted this election, but we can’t just cover up our scars with Band-Aids. To truly cure our ailing society, each of us must learn the importance of empathy in our communities.  

For too long, our nation has focused on our differences. Uttering racist remarks does not solve our nation’s problems, but neither does casting a vast number of Americans as deplorable for having differing political views. We must realize that too many Americans feel disempowered and disrespected. And this sense of being left behind cuts across political, cultural and racial lines. Even if you disagree with the opinions of an individual, having empathy means you can understand their experiences and feelings.

We find purpose when we live a life devoted to helping others. We find meaning in our relationships with friends and family. And we find common humanity when we engage in our communities. Coming together as a nation will take time, but it is necessary. Political leaders cannot solve our problems. But having empathy for one another can.

The Declaration of Independence ends with the words, “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Our Founding Fathers understood that individual liberty goes together with strong communities of dedicated citizens. I am not talking of involuntary collectivism but of communities made up of citizens who care for their neighbors. We are a more vibrant society when we engage and have empathy for one another. After this election, I hope we can do that once again.

Kyle Stewart can be reached at kstewart1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @KyleStew107