So today is an interesting day. I had the news on and it was all about the coverage of the funeral of George H.W. Bush. One the one hand, I recognize he did many terrible things when he was President and running for office. Many gay men are dead because of his (and the prior administrations) lack of action on the AIDS epidemic. On the other hand, I see how many people loved him. It has been interesting trying to hold both the compassion I have for those people and the resentment I have for the damage he did.
To further complicate my feelings I had a great deal of empathy for George W. Bush this morning. His grief was palpable. You could see his wife fiercely trying to help him keep it together. And he did break down in tears during his eulogy. I hate what he did but I get that grief. I am not sure how anyone who has experienced grief could not have empathy for that level of grief. I think it shows that human relationships are complicated. During current times many of us are not showing our empathy to others. We are very black and white. Now I personally do not think I could ever have empathy for a person who thought it was okay to hold immigrant children in cages. I will admit that. I cannot be in relationship with them. It is a matter of personal values. Others can do it and others also cannot.
So I am wondering why I can have empathy for the Bushes and none for the current administration. I think the answer to that is that I can see the humanness of the Bushes. I can see how people love them. I can see that they have empathy towards others (not always politically but seemingly personally). I see W. giving Michelle Obama a candy at the funeral and it shows his humanness. But the current occupant of the oval office has none of that. You don’t see him stop and let his wife go first or see him cover his wife or child with an umbrella. You do not ever see him in a moment of actual human kindness. I think that attitude has started to permeate into our society. It is this attitude of us or them. Good people or bad people. People that are deserving and people that are not. While I have never personally found Republican politics to be about helping others I have never seen them at this level of trying to divide people in this country.
There is no easy way to reconcile this all. I am both glad that I can have empathy for a family going through this really hard time and at the same time I have anger towards those that act out their own pain by supporting policies that actively harm others. I will name and live with this conflict.
Let me know any thoughts you have on this topic in the comments.