Q: What do a shoe, an embryo, and a firearm have in common?
A: None are sentient beings and all inspire far more passion and/or anger in the conservative mind than the pain of those who are actually able to perceive/feel.
Refugees fleeing violence, not their problem. Their own countrymen/women dying or going bankrupted due to lack of medical care, it doesn’t affect them so don’t even talk about raising taxes. Kids being massacred in their classrooms, nothing can be done because the ability to purchase multitudes of deadly weapons can’t be inconvenienced.
But a private company decides to stop selling a shoe adorned with a flag connected to a dark part of America’s history and suddenly conservatives come alive with anger. Awoken by an inanimate object in a way no human suffering has been able to.
Maybe it’s an evolutionary blunder, or a holdover from our tribal past that was in some way useful. Perhaps it’s just a greater connection to the non-sentient, something that cannot perceive feelings being more relatable to those with lower levels of empathy. Whatever it is, we must find a way to evolve to value the sentient over the non-sentient. Many of the world’s problems could be solved if we all just stopped bickering about things that don’t matter — like shoes — and put energy into things that do — like human well-being.
It could be that the solution lies in finding some way to expand the mind to better process empathy. Yes, it is possible. Sometimes it requires only conversations, other times it means just having to wait until people themselves have certain experiences. Of course, there will always be those who will never be moved, held fast in their self-centered world to the bitter end. They can just be ignored.
What is really needed is an Empathy Revolution, something that brings us together and tunes us to each other’s sentience. Unfortunately, this may take time and is dependent on teaching young people the value of empathy so they can grow to be better humans.