I noticed this sticker on a local post box, and it made me stop and think. And as I’m trying to remain open-minded in a world that screams at me to further polarize, I snapped a photo to give myself time to ponder the art of it all.
How far does empathy extend? Does empathizing demand excusing or mitigating actions? Is there a line that, once crossed, removes our humanity forever? Can I truly empathize with someone I find reprehensible?
Stalin was once a handsome, loving young husband. Hitler was a vegan and artist who wore bunny ears to amuse friends. Pol Pot had a love of music French poetry. Idi Amin was described as gregarious and charismatic.
But, no. I really don’t care if Stalin (et al) was lonely too. The people who deserve our empathy are those who don’t have access to public relations and wikipedia edits and charming stories of childhood foibles. The people who deserve a spotlight, if they want it, are those who made the best choice for us as a whole and suffer because others made a selfish or hateful choice.
All that said, I do believe that we all make mistakes in judgment and action. And I refuse to throw away those who are willing to learn and open themselves and show authentic remorse. But for those who callously dump on the vulnerable and easily stomped on, for those who are warned of heinous and harmful effects of policy and still move forward, for those who don’t use their privilege and power to stand in the way of inhumane policy: I really don’t care. Do you?