Everyone by now has nervously witnessed the American people dropping statements that either border on unconscious racism or enter blatant domains instead. Take Barabara Bush, for example. Apparently, she believes that “this is working out very well” for the poor who were forced to evacuate their homes—their lives.
I had a discussion with my friend Gerry last night about everything going on down South. Someone he knows well fully admitted to having less than compassionate thoughts for many of the displaced (poor, black) people in the Gulf. And I know a few people who have hinted to such as well. Thoughts like, “Well, they had every opportunity to get out in time. What they are experiencing now is totally their fault.” have been uttered more times than I care to admit.
What occurred to me yesterday, was that no matter how hard I try and no matter how long I live, I will probably NEVER fully understand or be able to empathize with many of the poor who were left when the levee gave way. All of my life I have had money. I was raised in a white, middle class home with two parents who loved me and made sure I had everything I ever needed.
Lately, I have had to stop myself from trying to understand the situation down South at all.
When we see the images on TV and in the paper, it’s easy to sympathize with the people who lost everything. But is it really possible for an upper middle class American to empathize with someone who has spent their life so poor? It seems to me, that when we attempt to empathize with an individual we can never fully understand or relate to we make poor decisions for them based on where our history has led us. And when those decisions backfire and said person doesn’t react the way we assumed that they should we throw our hands up and move closer and closer into a state of apathy.
In this day and age with such a drastic difference between classes, will there ever really be a solution?