Within everyone there is the ability to be cruel. No one is immune. Yet at some level no matter how justified we feel most of us have a feeling it is an aberration. It is not us at our best. We have tasted cruelty at the hands of others and it is not who we want to be or who we think we should be.
But there is a new story being told in this country. It is a story that says that some lives are not as worthwhile as others. It is a story that says trying to help them, trying to treat them like they matter not only doesn’t make things better….. It makes things worse. It is a story that excuses cruelty as limits long overdue. It is a story that blames them for our cruelty to them. “They brought it on themselves.”
It is cruelty as common sense. It is cruelty as civic virtue and personal integrity. It is cruelty not as aberration but us at our best.
It is seen in many places. It is in health care reform that robs people of healthcare. It is in a budget that seeks to make poverty a terminal illness. It is in a climate that teaches us to hate and fear those different than us. It is in a system that prizes the economic welfare of a few to justice for many.
It says we should see in a certain way, make sense of things in a certain way. In that is a real threat. In losing the ability to see the value of others we lose something of precious value to ourselves.
It leaves the world as us vs them and anything we do to them as justified. It is not as one public official said the new compassion. It is the old savagery in fancy clothes.