Compassion and Vigilance

I’ve been so flabbergasted the past few weeks that I’ve found it hard to write without veering off onto some tangent tirade about how unfit I think number 45 is to fill the office of president. There’s enough of that going around so I decided not to add my two cents on that front (though I just did right there).

The immigration ban number 45 signed this week was extremely short-sighted. No one is arguing whether an immigration process needs to be in place. Vetting is already happening. If changes are in order, then they should at least be thought out and implemented with a plan. Changing the rules on the fly only leads to mass confusion.

The problem with the ban and a large part of the problem in America today is that we give lip service to the individual being paramount, yet we judge people based on everything other than who they are as individuals.

Wide brush strokes don’t work. There isn’t one nation or one race (well, technically there is only one race – human) or one religion that has cornered the market on bad behavior. To be honest, if we really want to keep Americans safe we would ban ourselves from interacting with each other. The number one killer of Americans is by far other Americans and that’s happening less per capita now than at any other time in the past 50 plus years (statistics through 2014). 

If the individual is so important in America, why don’t we act like it? How is it that we can tell everything about someone from the color of their skin or the nation they came from. You can’t. If that was true I wouldn’t have ever given anyone from Alabama a chance. The first five guys I met from Alabama in the Navy were absolute a-holes. Given a larger sampling of Alabama natives over time I found Alabamans to be nice people. I just happened to meet all the jerks up front.

It doesn’t matter where I’ve traveled it’s always the same mix of people. A few are kind to a fault; most are cordial or at worst indifferent; and a small portion are mean, ill-tempered, and not even remotely likable. Bottom line is most people just want to get along  and go about their day in peace. This is every country I’ve visited without exception. It’s the human condition and we’re all a part of it.

Are there dangerous people in the world that would do us harm? Yes. Should we be vigilant on account of a handful who want to harm us? Of course. Being vigilant doesn’t include being harsh and inhumane. Vigilance doesn’t include treating those who are innocent as if they are guilty without proof.

The middle ground is at the intersection of compassion and vigilance.