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“Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable”

Posted By: Randy GageDecember 12, 2019

If you’re an American, you have probably just gone through the most extraordinary week of your lifetime.  And what makes it the most extraordinary week you’ve ever lived, is the fact that you probably didn’t even realize this week was different than any other.  (And for you readers in other countries, your week may have just been slightly less impactful.  Although if you live in the UK, perhaps more so.) 

What makes this last week so astonishing? 

The fact that some shocking, dangerous, and immoral events took place, and no one even blinked.  Think about this.

  • The Washington Post published “THE AFGHANISTAN PAPERS A secret history of the war.” This multi-year investigation, conducted by getting thousands of documents released through freedom of information lawsuits, reveal how three presidents (George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump) and their military and diplomatic enablers falsified documents, hid evidence, and lied to the American people about the war.  There was Twitter outrage for ten minutes and everyone moved on to the next Baby Yoda meme.
  • A couple days ago, the president of the United States of America admitted he used his non-profit charity to pay business debts and promote his political campaign. If this had occurred with any earlier president (Democrat or Republican), it would have brought an immediate death to their political career.  Their own party’s leadership would have condemned their behavior and demanded their resignation.  But today, there is a leadership vacuum in the political parties. The whole story was drowned out in the next news cycle 30 minutes later.
  • Because three children died last year from influenza while in immigration detention facilities, a group of doctors asked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow volunteer doctors to vaccinate detained migrant children against the flu.  The agency refused and the doctors and others protested at a facility in San Diego.  Tuesday six of the protesters were arrested. This incident didn’t even register a blip on the news.
  • Last night at 7 pm, for only the fourth time in more than two and a half centuries, the congress of the United States opened a hearing on Articles of Impeachment for a sitting president. The ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news shows didn’t even lead with the story. Forget for a moment whether you’re a liberal or in the red hat brigade. There was a debate on the Articles of Impeachment, and it wasn’t the top story of the day.  What alternate universe are we living in?
  • Just after 7 am this morning, the president sent out a tweet mocking Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist. While behavior like that from President Trump can no longer shock anyone, at the time I am writing this, more than 75,000 of his followers have “liked” the tweet.  What kind of person must you be to like a tweet from a 71-year-old political figure mocking a teenager with autism?

We have become so immune, so inoculated, so desensitized that depravity, immorality, and injustice doesn’t even register with us.  It is unable to pierce the white noise we’re surrounded with. 

How can this much stuff happen in seven days and it’s just another week?  When did we become untethered to kindness, decency, and justice? This collective throwing up of hands and shrugging of shoulders is killing our soul.  We’re so busy chasing Instagram likes that we’re blind to immorality.  We have time for celebrity gossip news, but none for real journalism.  We’re so desperate to further our own political viewpoint that we now believe it is acceptable behavior to demonize those with other views.

Can we please rethink this? 

I know I have to do better.  Like you, I’m passionate about my beliefs.  (And sometimes have a hard time understanding that good people can have opposing views.)  Too often I stoop to the snarky clapback, quick judgment, or a failure to empathize.

As I watched the rancorous, partisan and petty bickering in the impeachment hearing last night, I came to a revelation.  One development the founding fathers had no way to factor in was today’s social media platforms.  With Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, every person on earth has the opportunity to be a broadcast network.  A citizen journalist, but without having to know anything about journalism.  If we all really have become broadcasters, it would behoove us to learn something about the role of a free press.

In what started as political humor in 1893, Chicago Evening Post journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne introduced an Irish bartender character named Mr. Dooley, to his readers.  (Think of Dooley as the original Archie Bunker prototype.)  One of the gifts that Mr. Dooley left us, is something that has become the unofficial mantra for the role of enlightened journalists everywhere:

“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Just as politicians, celebrities and media outlets have the power to create trends, empower change and influence minds – so do each of us. How often are we using it to comfort the afflicted, the speak for those with no voice, to stand for those who have no one else standing for them?  And doing so with respect, civility, and empathy?  I have to do better.  I hope you’ll join me.


- RG

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  • 14 comments on ““Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable””

    1. Thank you Randy. As I've gotten older (can't believe I said that) I find myself speaking up much more than I ever did years ago. Years ago I was to afraid of what people would think. I respect anyone who speaks up - you may be standing alone. but it's worth it.

    2. You also missed a horrible fact that shows deplorable condition of today's society's philosophy that Greta Thunberg was called a person of the year. Not Elon Musk (a great man who really deserves it) but some hysterical ignorant arrogant immature socialist kid who is manipulated by interested people (she has good intentions and the balls, though, she just doesn't realise what she's actually doing). Unfortunately, people chose emotions over real achievements, reason and character

      1. I've written 13 books and almost 10,000 blog posts, but I'm kinda at a loss for words here. So I guess I'll just say thank you for the case study. -RG

          1. Hello, Peter. Checked my points of view one more time and again found them correct. Would like you or anyone else prove me wrong and reveal the truth if I'm wrong (no sarcasm here).
            But I highly doubt I'm mistaken since it's not me who starts speaking with words "how dare you...", blames capitalism and everyone else disagreeing, exaggerates, sells panic, acts with emotions without providing sufficient data, makes a mom sacrifice her international career as an opera singer and uses lines like "Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all".
            I conclude this kind of belief isn't " serving yours, or anyone else’s highest good".
            Yours sincerely, Dmitry

            1. Dmitry, you magnify what you pay attention to. YOU made the choice to see that being as a "problem". You and you alone create your own reality. You gave that significance by deeming it mandatory to express an opinion about "as a problem"

              "why not look at SOLUTIONS to a better world and step up, rather than criticizing the zeal and positive self dimension of another being."

              oh, and maybe her mom thought it was the best solution to her parenting challenges to sacrifice her career, if you meant her mom is the referenced opera singer..

              if you look at SOLUTIONS in your own life, it's possible you'll stop seeing problems other beings lives.

              that's the way self perception works..

              anyway, carry on..

              "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" ~ Wayne Dyer.

              I'm offering you a solution or paradigm shift that I KNOW is true.

              what you do with this info is up to you..

              no reply necessary..

              it's your self concept not mine..

            2. Randy: talks about few horrible things that happened recently
              Me: adds one more thing to the list and attaches relevant criticism of the girl
              You: criticizes me for criticizing Greta
              Me: explains my criticism
              You: gives me off topic lecture and mistakenly claims I see Ms Thunberg as a problem

              And what the hell should I respond to that? (Yeah, I know you said not to reply but I'm kinda wondering what's gonna be next)

            3. Hi Dmitry,
              I don't see your post as simply adding another item to the list and then relevant criticism. The words you used were: "hysterical ignorant arrogant immature socialist kid." That's really just name calling and cyber bullying to a teenage girl with Asperger's, no different than what the president is doing. It would serve the discussion better if we just speak about the ideas, without attacking people personally. BTW, you may be surprised to know that Elon is huge fan of Greta's.
              - RG

    3. I could not agree with you more. Fortunately for me, I don't watch TV--so I don't have to listen to all these inanities. I do wonder how/if we will survive all this, though.

    4. My question is, and I hope it's thought provoking: "What is a prosperous message we could all "silently send to ourselves AND others" to live FROM the greatness we were all BORN to live from:?

    5. Thanks again Randy. Your post and background inputs were necessary. Wrapping up my 89-day annual vacation in Greece and also made some decisions to "shut-off" and "stop" a few things. I stopped listening to people since mid-1987 after finding my why and now am living my dreams. Like donkeys, we all have an opinion ... the sad part is most of us have forgotten their why or never had one. Such a gap makes it easy to "rally" behind someone else's dream versus finding their own. Then, again ... I could be wrong. Maybe folks are really living their dreams through someone else's reality. Who knows? One thing is certain ... we all were given 0000-0000 to either be a sponge or a spring. As evident by my two personal losses on 11 Dec 2019, that -0000 is coming soon. Thank goodness they were springs and left our family, community and me a better person. After serving my country in the military, U.S. Embassy, and in senior government positions -- taking and giving the oath which some have forgotten -- I am saddened each and every day for what is happening in the U.S.A. The problem is not the politicians or the process, the solution is the citizens (most who are descendants of immigrants) who may be the only real power they have for change -- the vote. The best to all in 2020.

    6. Hi Randy. Thanks for replying and providing food for thought by it. I didn't intend to insult anyone, just tried to be brutally honest but seems like ended up simply being brutal. Thanks for teaching the lesson, will fix this part of my behavior. Everyone, have a nice day
      P.S. I do agree with Elon Musk that Greta has "more heart than the vast majority of political leaders" (as earlier I wrote "she has good intentions and the balls")
      Yours sincerely,

    7. Randy, I LOVE how timely this particular post is for me. I have recently started unsubscribing/unfollowing anyone or anything that isn't adding to my life. I've also become painfully aware of how desensitized we're becoming to so many things. Even going to see a movie is not enjoyable anymore as so many of them are showing graphic violence against children... complete with blood, gore, screams, and more.

      While I don't have all the answers - - or even many answers - - on how the rest of the world can be fixed, I do have the power to fix myself and what I pay attention to and absorb in my life.

      It's heartwarming to know I'm not the only one seeing and feeling this. Thank you!

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