The Migrant Children And Empathy
Last week I wrote an essay proclaiming my indifference to the plight of the migrant children being separated from their parents at the Mexican border. In hindsight, it was a poorly-written story. I let my own personal emotions about my career struggles affect what is a truly and plainly a human rights violation being perpetrated by the Trump Administration on a mass scale.
Because there is absolutely zero justification for forcibly separating innocent children from their parents, anywhere, anytime, anywhere in the world, regardless of the circumstances. Since my essay, Trump has reversed course and retracted his forcible child separation policy, which is good news for anyone who cares about justice, decency and human rights.
I have written extensively on this blog about my vehement dislike for Trump and his administration, including here, and here, here, and here, and here. But in the heat of the moment, at 3am after one whiskey and one job application rejection too many, I exploded and let my anger get the best of me.
I’ll try not to let that happen again, because Gen X Chronicle is meant to represent and amplify the voices of Generation X in all our glory and diversity, and I’ve always been about inclusion and progress for all peoples.
Nevertheless, there was a kernel of truth in what I wrote, as is always the case when one writes something in the heat of an emotional moment. And that kernel is that at the moment I wrote my essay, I was feeling so economically disenfranchised, so detached from society, after struggling professionally and financially for a long period of time, that I lashed out at a group that was even weaker — by far — than I am.
And that’s exactly what Trump wants. He wants people who feel left behind economically by the new high-tech economy, and white people who have an elemental fear of the browning of America, to fear those who are different than they are, and to lash out at them.
From coal miners to factory workers to rich executives, and there are plenty of wealthy folks among Trump supporters, the President’s strategy is to rile these people up with fear and panic, and to turn them against the darker, the poorer, and the weaker.
It’s a strategy that catapulted this Machiavellian man into the White House, and as it looks now like he may even win a second term. I pray that doesn’t happen.
What Americans — and I especially include myself here — need to do is to resist the urge to scapegoat, to stereotype, to fear, to suspect, and especially to hate.
America is changing, economically, politically and particularly demographically. We must embrace that change, and work to include everyone in the unique dream that this country represents.
The alternative is to fight each other tooth and nail for every inch of territory, every privilege, every piece of political, social, psychological and physical space until we’re all battered and bloodied and drowning in an ocean of hate.
But that’s not what I want for my country. So I say choose love, and inclusion, and diversity, and let’s try to hear what each other is saying.
That means not only listening to advocates for migrant children and their allies, but also really listening to coal miners and factory workers and others displaced by the new, green economy. Because as a good friend pointed out to me, you will never convert anyone to the cause of justice, or conservation, by telling a coal miner that you’re gonna’ shut down their plant and take away their job, but it’s “for a good cause, to save the planet.”
That’s just a nonstarter. Patronizing and talking down to people because they’re less educated than someone else, or less “woke,” is just wrong. Why not try to convert them to your side instead?
Because we’re all in this together, white, black, brown, new economy workers, old economy workers, the old, the sick, the infirm, the mentally ill, our veterans, and every other group that lives alongside each other in this great democratic experiment called America.
As for me, I’m going to try and suppress the anger I have at slipping through the cracks and struggling so much to find suitable work that matches my training. I’m going to continue to write, with an open mind and an open heart, and to tell the stories of not only Generation X but of all Americans.
Trump will continue to dominate headlines, make no mistake about it. He will continue to try and divide the country, and to pit people against each other. The only response to this is to fight back and let the world know Trump’s divisive vision of America is not the America that we want for ourselves.
If I could boil it down to one word, it would be the word that adorns so many t-shirts, hats, Internet hashtags and car bumper stickers, from California to New York and everywhere in between. It’s the word that signals that the person displaying it rejects Trump’s hateful vision of America, and instead embraces equity, justice, diversity and inclusion.
You know the word I’m talking about.