On Friday night I was at a fundraising dinner at the Unitarian Church and, speaking with a friend, heard him say that the use of the word “hope” on the brochure describing why the reader might want to consider giving the church money, was a word that is so passive that it is not only meaningless in terms of a motivation to give money, but a downright negative in terms of its relationship to action.
Driving home this morning after running a few errands I heard the end of the radio show “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook. His guest, a woman named Kim Scott, the author of the new book “Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” used a phrase that was obviously her identification of the disease requiring “radical candor.” The disease was “ruinous empathy.”
On Saturday I received an email from an old friend who sent this link – a really funny faux advertising video purporting to sell Impeachara (antitrumpoxizine), a drug designed to blunt the impact of the illness T.I.A.D. – Trump Induced Anxiety Disorder. Taking the drug convinces you “that Donald Trump has already been impeached,” thereby addressing your depression and “the constant urge to pull out your hair.” “Thanks to Impeachara,” the man says, “I’ve elected to be happy!”
There is a ton of history that exposes the public’s vulnerability to shallow notions of hope, empathy, and happiness. Does the Holocaust ring a bell?
Dismissal of hope, empathy, and happiness has seemingly become, for the “enlightened,” the language of reality, and the primary motivator for action. But I put “enlightened” in quotes because there is the depressing fact that in the United States, the definition of the “enlightened,” at least as it relates to politics, is based on nothing.
The definition of enlightened: “having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.” So who are the well-informed enlightened?
“According to a new Pew Research Center survey [posted on January 18, 2017], Americans who say they voted for Trump in the general election relied heavily on Fox News as their main source of election news leading up to the 2016 election, whereas Clinton voters named an array of different sources, with no one source named by more than one-in-five of her supporters. The survey was conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 12, 2016, among 4,183 adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.”
“When voters were asked to write in their ‘main source’ for election news, four-in-ten Trump voters named Fox News. The next most-common main source among Trump voters, CNN, was named by only 8% of his voters.”
“Clinton voters, however, did not coalesce around any one source. CNN was named more than any other, but at 18% had nowhere near the dominance that Fox News had among Trump voters. Instead, the choices of Clinton voters were more spread out. MSNBC, Facebook, local television news, NPR, ABC, The New York Times and CBS were all named by between 5% and 9% of her voters.”
“What’s more, though Fox News tops the list of sources among Trump voters, only 3% of Clinton voters named it as their main source. And while MSNBC was named by 9% of Clinton voters, only 1% of Trump’s voters relied most on that network. The New York Times and NPR were also much more commonly named by Clinton voters than Trump voters.”
Back to hope, empathy, and happiness. What is the recipe for hope? For empathy? For happiness? What’s the source? Who defines the source as the truth?
Have the words hope, empathy, and happiness become exclusively associated with shallow thinking?
God I hope not.