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Two of my three daughters are world-class athletes. The oldest is a freaky fast 6’4″ who could shoot from anywhere, and was captain of the Duke basketball team. The youngest (“Linda”) is a little taller, a little faster, and plays volleyball for Georgetown. Their middle sister is the world’s only 5’10” girl with a short complex. She’s a brilliant pianist and was a very good high school athlete. But not an athletic freak like her sisters.
Anyway, all three girls are home for Thanksgiving, and it’s been wonderful. One of the Bastiat family Christmas traditions is we make gingerbread, then bake and decorate gingerbread cookies as a family. It doesn’t sound like much, but to us, it’s a big deal. Always a big production, as you can see from the picture.
Linda’s best friend is “Lisa,” who was a classmate of hers in high school, and basically lives at our house when she’s home from college. Lisa says she’s 5’2″, but that might be optimistic. I find it fascinating that these girls are inseparable even though they look so, um, striking together — but it works.
She and Linda both have issues about body image. People have always remarked upon their height. They have trouble buying clothes. Lisa wears a size-5 shoe, which is not easy to find. Linda wears a 14. Also not easy to find. You might consider their problems to be opposites, but they view them as the same thing. Which, really, they are. All of our problems are basically the same, right? Which seems weird. Except it’s not. So Lisa becomes our emergency backup fourth Bastiat sister. She fits right in. To us.
Empathy is a beautiful thing. It’s not sympathy. It’s understanding someone else’s difficulties. You can have empathy for someone that is not exactly like you. In fact, that’s the best type of empathy. Because then, at that point, you realize that we’re all essentially the same, and we’re all doing the best we can. Lisa hopes to earn an art scholarship. Linda feels the pressure as a scholarship athlete every time she has a bad practice. They talk on the phone, and they can empathize, even if they don’t quite understand. I can think of nothing more beautiful.
I can think of nothing more beautiful.
Once we’re no longer permitted to empathize with those different from us, and once we’re expected to agree with everything that is said by ‘our tribe’, then our society will self-destruct. This seems obvious to me. It probably also seems obvious to Lisa and Linda, in their ill-fitting shoes.
Seeking comfort by avoiding uncomfortable associations leads to discomfort. Like uncomfortable shoes. Lisa and Linda understand ill-fitting shoes. Although they’ve figured out the difference between empathy and sympathy. Unlike many American adults. Part of their insight relates to self-respect. If they love themselves, that allows them to love others. Self-loathing leads to resentment of others. Which also seems obvious to me.
Tragically, I suspect that this also seems obvious to the Democratic Party. And I suspect their stated desire to emphasize tolerance over “love thy neighbor” is an intentional effort to destroy western civilization. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m becoming more and more certain that I’m right. Because if I was trying to destroy western civilization, that is what I would do.
Teach people to hate their history and hate themselves. Then they will naturally hate their neighbor, despite their efforts to tolerate him, and society will tear itself apart. You won’t have to destroy it from the outside — they’ll do it themselves on your behalf. And they’ll feel virtuous in the process.
Sympathy is often destructive. Empathy is always beautiful.
That’s not right or wrong — that’s just the way it is.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. He did not tell us to tolerate our neighbor. Empathy exaggerates what we have in common. Tolerance exaggerates our differences. Those who preach tolerance are exaggerating the divisions in our society to the point that we will no longer be able to live together. Regardless of their intentions, those who preach tolerance are sowing conflict. Conflict which cannot be resolved.
Which would normally be very upsetting to me. Except that this year’s batch of gingerbread is unusually good. Perhaps I’ll have just one more cookie. That giraffe with the broken leg — no one will notice.
I’m so, so thankful for my daughters.
All four of them. Even if one of them looks a bit different. We don’t care. We love her, and she loves us. And that’s good enough for us. We don’t need a government program to teach us to tolerate one another. We’re way past that already.
And the left fears such things.
Because such things destroy Critical Race Theory and other forms of tolerance that directly challenge “love thy neighbor.” If neighbors love each other, they have no use for tolerance.
And no use for progressives.
And that just won’t do. So they start teaching about divisions and tolerance in kindergarten. And they hope that kids like Linda and Lisa don’t eventually recognize that even though they have different problems, that our problems are really very similar, and that we have a lot more in common than we might think at first. Thinking like that is toxic to the left.
Imagine being a member of a political movement for which empathy is destructive.
That would give its supporters pause, I would think. Surely that creates some inner conflict for them, right?
But even after exploring the importance of empathy, I find it difficult to empathize with their inner conflict, for some reason.Published in