The Lack of Empathy, the Failure of Understanding

For the last several weeks, our nation has been gripped by the contentious trench fight to place Brett Kavanaugh on the United States Supreme Court. Yet we’re no longer speaking of ideological liabilities or even theorems of constitutional interpretation. We’re not even watching the often stale maneuvering of underhanded politicians clamoring for electoral appeasement.

No, we’re witnessing something far more depraved, a widening societal embrace of the abjectly craven. We’re watching, with eyes wide open, as a blinding light illuminates the callousness of our moral decay.

Mere days before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford appeared before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves, stating,

Doesn’t she have an obligation to tell someone to stop him from doing that if he is in fact a sex criminal? Where’s her obligation here? What about the rest of us?

…I’m not asking about her reasons — I’ m sure she has a million reasons, and maybe they’re legitimate. I’m asking about the rest of us, the other 320 million who live here [in the US]. If he’s actually a sex criminal, we have a right to know that and she has an obligation to tell us.

I know it’s hard, but why don’t we have a right to know? If there’s a rapist on the loose, if you don’t tell anybody, if Bernie Madoff rips you off and you don’t tell his other investors, you’re part of the problem, are you not? What am I missing?

We once placed a premium on chasing not glory, but virtuousness. And while always imperfect, we’ve long believed in one central tenet, that the strong have a duty to protect the vulnerable, and that the wrath of our vengeance belongs to perpetrators, not victims.

Yet in today’s venom-laden world, an all-encompassing sphere now fully-permeated by the viciousness of hyper-partisanship, even morality is being cast into the realm of the subjective. Now, we no longer judiciously-avenge victims, we assail them. We no longer attempt to heal their wounds, instead we compound their pain—and imperil their safety—by confronting their trauma with unfettered scorn.

How could we have fallen so far? How is it that a people who once prided their capacity for caring can be so cold-hearted? How can a people so supposedly empathetic excoriate pain? How can the righteous ridicule an innocent’s darkest hour? How can we reconcile our notions of nobleness with deeds that knowingly-condemn our daughters to suffer the maliciousness of predation?


(Featured Image “A Shadow of a Human“, by Arthur Kerensa, made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication/image cropped from original.)