I’m going to take the opportunity of Veterans Day to confront the constant cliché argument that liberals exploit tragedy for political gain. Apparently there are a few radical conservatives who do not understand that compassion and empathy are the organic instincts that produce progressive liberals. Those conservatives seem to have abandoned the “bleeding heart” stereotype they perennially pummeled us with, because it seems to imply that they are hard-hearted and mean-spirited in contrast.

Kindness, compassion and empathy for all humankind have always been my original nature, and they were nurtured by a warm, compassionate family that also had a deep commitment to social justice. The liberal commitment to community and patriotism complemented, rather than contradicted, my sense of duty to defend the nation from its foreign enemies while others of every political stripe found convenient excuses to avoid it.

Nor did my remorse for every soldier’s or insurgent’s life I took preclude me from accomplishing my mission or acting as a soldier and a dependable comrade for my fellow soldiers and my unit. Feeling a deep sense of grief and sorrow for the innocent refugees who inevitably were caught in the crossfire, those who conservatives objectify as “collateral damage,” probably saved my soul.

So, I’m unapologetic for the political expression of my deeply held principle and values as a liberal. I won’t waste my pity, compassion or empathy in an attempt to understand those who can’t muster any of those vital human instincts. My empathy is reserved for the innocent lives that are lost because of those who oppose common-sense policies that preserve innocent lives.

John M. Flagler

Alfred


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