We were out for dinner together last night. Soon, two older couples (yes, even older than we are!) came in and took their places at an adjacent table.
One of the men had barely taken his seat when he began loudly complaining about President Obama’s promise to take executive action to tighten background checks for certain gun purchases. His point seemed to be how wimpy that made the President.
His male counterpart across the table then made a sneering reference to the fact that Obama was shedding tears while speaking of the mass slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I couldn’t believe it,” this man said, “He didn’t even know them!”
“Yeah,” replied his companion, “I really think he’s been sent here, undercover-like, to undermine this country.”
Thankfully, the waiter arrived with the menus at this point and the conversation moved on to their dinner choices. When my blood pressure returned to normal, I decided against taking him on in this public space (or breaking the nearest chair over his head — my first inclination!) but the lovely evening had certainly lost something of its luster.
What could prompt such vitriol? Partisan politics? Racism? Ignorance? Perhaps all of the above. Certainly, lack of compassion. Lack of the ability to “suffer with.”
To quote Nicholas Kristoff in today’s New York Times Op-Ed Guns, Tears and Republicans:
“The critics in the G.O.P. who scolded the president for weeping while talking about shooting deaths have it wrong. We should all be crying.”