What has the world come to? A slogan that has resonated throughout history, “Stronger Together”, is out-done by a call based on isolationism and division to a fictional, non-existent past. The world, supposedly more interconnected and educated than ever, is fraught with regionalism, fear, and ignorance.
This is not to say that the future is not going to be better. The march towards progress and understanding has continued to be unceasing. With the rise of the millennials, who have a better grasp than any generation before of the interconnectedness of humanity, into positions of leadership and power, perhaps the world will truly understand that humanity is one.
When I take public transit in Los Angeles to work everyday, I am exposed to the lives, actions, and faces of those less fortunate. Sometimes, it makes me wonder what we can do better to help those that society’s progress continue to exclude and leave behind. Sometimes, it makes me angry because of their own ignorance and their lack of desire to do better.
Just today, while on the bus, a man boarded and was tripped over by a middle-aged man of Korean descent who instantly apologized. Yet, instead of accepting the apology, the man cursed and acting menacingly. At one point he even gestured as if pointing a gun to the Korean man’s forehead. Part of me wanted to stand up and do something about it. Furthermore, this man came on the bus without paying; he boarded through the rear exit. The lack of respect, empathy and humanity is shocking.
A few days ago, while on the metro, a couple young men boarded and one of them immediately walked to the middle of the carriage and spit on the floor. He was coughing everywhere and spitting everywhere, evidently causing unease among the other passengers. At a certain part of the journey, he started cussing loudly, seemingly at no one in particular. Again, the lack of respect and empathy is shocking.
This is America I am talking about, in one of the so-called world cities: Los Angeles. In the days when I lived in Hong Kong and Taipei and took transit everyday to work, instances like this rarely happened more than once a month, if at all. Here, I am confronted by discomfort everyday. I am a firm believer that education determines how a person acts. It’s incredulous to me that America’s education system and culture produces these people. Perhaps they are trapped within a socio-economic system, with limited access to quality education. Yet that assessment in itself already presents an irony. The “greatest” nation on Earth, can’t even properly educate its people.
This is only a snippet of all the issues in this world. I started out by pointing to the slogans of the current presidential nominees. When I look around everyday, the dichotomy symbolized by the two slogans plays out constantly. It is not surprising that the failure of the education system and culture to properly instill empathy has led to the rise of fear from ignorance, hatred for those that are different, and lack of respect towards others.
Well, this is going to be an incomplete post, but I urge everyone to learn empathy, to teach empathy, and to live with empathy. Finally, vote. To a certain degree, I believe this election is no longer about policy but rather it has become a referendum on the morality of this country.