Christopher Lucero | We Need Empathy and Compassion

Letters to the Editor
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Continuing a theme that imagines life through the lens of videogame design, there are current topical conditions to illustrate further how a hypothetical game can model our predicament.

In early June, I created a hypothetical video game that could cause a great bit of suffering for minority players whose “noob” status caused the game to be ruined for them. Hypothetically, the experience of any minority within a game dominated by “them,” whomever the iconic “them” might be, is almost surely going to be a struggle.

This hypothetical game was meant to explain the sad and obviously dissatisfied psychic state that we witness among vocal Republicans via the opinions printed here in the funny pages of The Signal.

Ultimately, the appeal was for free speech, and protecting the right for this minority to continue their struggle, and to express their gripes, no matter how futile or vile their expressions might become. It also recognized the individual responsibility for happiness, and how “we cannot angrily shout, rant, or pout our way to happy.”

There is an unfortunate situation we need to deal with, however.

There are responsibilities that come with authority that require that we normalize efforts to achieve “justice for all,” including minorities like those downtrodden Republicans in California. True leadership will actively recognize this and act to address it.

Recognizing their plight requires empathy, and amending the conditions to achieve greater satisfaction for them means attempting to honestly “walk a mile in their shoes.” It is our responsibility as citizens, and we all share it in a tribal alliance that goes beyond politics or cultural values, by virtue of our Californian and American citizenship.

It is certain that Californian Republicans have valid, legitimate and useful principles and methods that would be incrementally beneficial in improving the State of the State. To best utilize our free speech rights, we are obliged to listen to our fellow citizens, attempt to compassionately amend their gripes, hearing and empathizing with the principles and methods they advocate. To wit: being a responsible citizen requires a willingness to “adopt the alternative view” (remember that?) from the norm and consider the potential for useful benefit.

It can become difficult to hear Republicans’ message because the shouting or vile or angry speech is alienating. Likewise, if authority is gained by said Republicans and the action witnessed is either vindication or status quo inaction, it is hard to lend credence to their previous activism. “Thoughts and prayers” do not solve problems. Nonetheless, being a responsible citizen requires the patience of a loving parent listening to a hurt and angry child, if that is the role that causes the message to get through. Even with Donald Trump, separating the message from the messenger is important, such as his withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Nixon, Trump has advanced on that campaign promise, though it is still not a done deal.

All these conditions should resonate with our fellow citizens who live with a minority status as Republicans here in California.

To succeed, we should empathize with, be compassionate for, commit to — really — listen to and lend credence to their plight, “in order to form a more perfect union.”

Similarly, we should lend the same empathy, and compassion, and committed listening to all our fellow Americans, our fellow citizens whose lives are distinctly different from ours, whose experience and whose cultural values and whose solutions to the problem of living socially are different from ours. Those whose skin color or cultural origin or country of origin is different from ours. Those whose experience of law and law enforcement is different from ours. Those whose living experience is perhaps entirely unknowable to us.

Without empathy and compassion, without loving patience, we will never successfully walk that mile.

Christopher Lucero
Saugus

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