Just a Little Kindness?
Is that too much to ask?
Herman Cain passed away today. He contracted COVID-19 at a Trump Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Forty days later, he is gone.
The political environment in which we live is as toxic as it has ever been, with instant communication through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more making it easy to share our visceral reactions to news reports and other stimuli instantly.
This is fine for mundane things like, say, whether the new Taylor Swift music is up to her standard. My two reactions to this are 'I don't care' and 'who cares?'
But when things like Herman Cain's death are reported, many reduce him to a one-dimensional cartoon character, either beloved or more likely vilified, for his political orientation.
I read a thread from one of the news announcements. The first 2 were expressions of condolence to the Cain family, sending prayers for this good man.
The next 6 messages ripped him for attending a Trump rally, being a republican, being a conservative, and being an 'idiot' for failing to wear a mask and maintain social distancing at the rally. Many shared pictures of him at the rally, shoulder to shoulder with other unmasked attendees. The tone was not educational ('gee kids, don't try this at home' or 'unfortunately he didn't choose to follow guidelines...') Instead, they were mocking, derisive, and cruel.
I tweeted in reply to one of them that this wasn't the time to pile on. A father, husband, grandfather was gone. There are people he left behind. Mr. Cain himself was created by God just like the rest of us.
Yes, he made a bad decision at the rally. People make bad decisions all the time. Sometimes they are fatal. If you didn't agree with him politically, you can put that aside for a day? Or at least an hour?
Likewise, John Lewis, the last surviving speaker from the iconic 1964 Selma, Alabama civil rights march, passed away last week. Given that he was a sitting Congressman as well as a civil rights hero, this event would have brought out politicians from both sides to rally around a fallen colleague. For one like this, the president would likely speak at the funeral.
Today, as Mr. Lewis is laid to rest, the ceremony will be attended by 3 of the 4 living former presidents, with Jimmy Carter (96 yrs old) unable to travel so he sent a letter of tribute.
In the era of COVID-19, the overflow crowd normally expected at an event like this was replaced by a smaller, masked, socially distant crowd. Congress and the Senate were able to attend a ceremony at the Capitol on Monday with strong attendance from both parties.
Events like the deaths of John Lewis and Herman Cain used to get the country to stop, at least for a day or so, and take stock of what we share in common; our country and our humanity. People would put aside the nastiness for a day and act like grownups, and the leaders would lead in a positive tone.
Former presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama did their best to behave with a dignity that an occasion like this one requires.
As we move past these moments, let's try to do the right thing. We know what the right thing to do is regarding COVID 19. Let's do them.
But beyond that, let's treat each other better. Let us respect those who have passed away whether we agreed with them or not. Let us realize our shared humanity and the reality that we are all God's children.
Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.
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