The problem is this compassion is largely counterfeit. It sounds like the real thing when liberals pontificate about how dedicated they are to improving the lot of the downtrodden, but it vanishes when they are put to the test.
Nancy Pelosi provides a wonderful example. When the news channels were full of pictures of young children languishing in holding facilities on our southern border, she gushed about how concerned she was for their welfare. With her arms spread apart, she declared she wished she could take them all home with her.
Of course, she knew she could not. She was aware that many thousands of Central Americans were streaming into the country, and she bemoaned their plight. Yet she was not prepared to do anything about it, except prattle on about how worried she was.
Pelosi might tell us that at least her heart was in the right place, whereas conservatives are heartless. Nonetheless, if your head is not also in the right place, neither is your heart. If you are not ready to do something that genuinely helps, you are all talk and no real kindness.
I am reminded of the years I spent working in a psychiatric hospital. It was grueling, discouraging work because so many of the patients were terribly ill. They suffered from schizophrenia, affective disorders and manic-depression. Of these, the schizophrenics were worst off, trapped in their agony and delusions.
More painful still, the vast majority of the psychotics were not going to get better. They might be medicated to control their symptoms, but they were never going to approach normality.
For those of us who genuinely cared, this broke our hearts. We were fond of our charges and wished them the best. Nonetheless, we knew that the big dreams of their childhoods would never be realized. Even so, we worked with them to make their lives as comfortable as possible.
There were others, however, who were transient workers. Almost always sweet young things, they arrived at the hospital full of hope. Because they possessed boundless compassion, their love was sure to rescue those with whom they came into contact.
Then, thanks to their magical kindness, the patients they saved would be eternally grateful. Except this never happened. The fairy-tale cures never materialized and even when patients improved, few were appreciative. They took this help as their due.
So how did the sweet young things react? Well, they disappeared. Crushed by an empathetic overload, they saved themselves by changing jobs. Only the tough souls, the ones prepared to handle agonizing frustrations, remained behind to continue ministering to the patients. They were the ones who actually cared.
Liberals are like those sweet young things. They are all aflutter about how they are going to remake the world, but when the going gets tough, they hide behind a screen of words. Better yet, they blame others for exacerbating the problems they were not equipped to solve.
We see this in Texas, where the liberals declare the breakdown of border security a humanitarian crisis. Their hearts go out to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But do they acknowledge their role in creating this emergency? Do they rush to change the laws that set it in motion? No, they just kvetch!
We see this in Gaza, where the liberals rush to send millions in relief to Hamas, but then sidetrack money intended to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome. They also propose a ceasefire that will allow the Islamists to regroup and start again. No thought is given to those who may perish in the renewed fighting two years from now.
Is this compassion? Is this genuine help — or a pretense of concern? I, for one, am no longer fooled by the crocodile tears.
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.