President Obama: Raoul Wallenberg should inspire us to make a habit of empathy

QUOTE OF THE DAY | President Barack Obama on making the choice to embrace empathy and compassion in his Rosh … Continued


President Barack Obama on making the choice to embrace empathy and compassion in his Rosh Hashanah reflections.

Read more on religion, culture and politics at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University.

  • haveaheart

    I’m a lifelong Democrat and a supporter of President Obama. I voted for him twice and would do so again.

    That said, I have to take issue with the notion of putting a “humanitarian face” on our obligations in selected atrocities.

    The U.S. has a long record of intervening in civil wars within nations that have something we want. Usually oil, but always some economic “interest.” We also have a long record of stepping in when atrocities are being committed against white people.

    True, we’ve been known to give humanitarian aid to non-white countries in the grips of starvation, natural disaster, or pandemic (except, of course, AIDS). But when was the last time we marched into an African country to stop ethnic cleansing — mass slaughter of millions and the rape and torture of millions more?

    That’s right — never. Unless there was also an economic interest that we could exploit.

    When the president asks us to share in “the belief that when a neighbor is suffering, we cannot stand idly by,” he is, I believe, acting from a place of compassion. But why is it that we engage with worldwide human suffering only when it’s taking place in a region that holds economic interests for us?

    This is sad, sad, sad. We want to “save” people suffering under despots in the Middle East, but we had nothing to offer those who suffered and died in Rwanda and Sudan.

    We Americans are self-centered and mean-spirited. It’s that simple.

  • PaxItaliae

    “We Americans are self-centered and mean-spirited. It’s that simple.”

    Name me a people who is not. It’s the human condition.

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