Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On Fear and Stepping Up to Help

Interesting discussion today when talking about All The Light We Cannot See with a group of friends. We talked quite a bit about conscience and acting in accordance with our own principles. One woman told a story of someone collapsing in church. The first time, the man kind of came to with the assistance of people in the pew. The second time, a few minutes later, he collapsed again, somewhat more dramatically. No one came over to help. So my friend stood up, interrupted the priest's homily, and called out to the congregation for help for this man. Finally, two doctors came to his assistance and helped him. Another woman spoke of a man having a seizure while they rode in the same Tube car in London. My friend and her husband immediately tried to help, pulling the emergency lever to stop the train and tried to administer first aid. Two others in the nearly full car came over. Eventually the conductor arrived and got the man medical assistance. In both cases, the women spoke of the paralysis of the onlookers, truly frozen in their spots, seemingly fearful to step forward. I think one of the themes that is so appealing in the Doerr's book is the courage exemplified by so many individuals in their own ways and also the moral conflict that some experience. We are no different, but sometimes I wonder if we need to think about our courage in conversations about our society and particularly in regard to the upcoming US presidential elections. Sometimes, speaking up to speak the truth as we see it is an act of courage.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Is this the kind of people we are?

The presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle are sobering in the types of candidates being served up to the American people. Are these candidates the best and the brightest our society can conjure up? Is the whole process of running a campaign so fraught with difficulty and expense that only the select few (those funded by a small cadre of US billionaires) can actually consider attempting it? What are we coming to as a country and a society? I'm actually embarrassed by many of the candidates, particularly the one whose welcome into that country the English Parliament is debating. Just exactly how is foreign policy going to work when one of our closest allies does not welcome our leader.

And how do the candidates view and respect the office of President? It seems some have little respect. It is also very concerning that people are paying so much attention to polls, especially in light of the fact that it isn't really clear who is responding to the polls. Cellphones, lack of landlines, and computer privacy seem to restrict access to many whose voices might be useful to hear and be counted in the polling.

Where is depth? Or is everything reduced to sound bytes?