I don’t usually cry watching Morning Joe. Well, that’s not quite true. The horrifying images of the inhumane and immoral treatment of immigrants at our borders have certainly brought me to tears.
But yesterday, I cried about something good, something inspiring, the story Mike Barnicle told about Joe Biden’s generous outpouring of emotional support for his brother Pete when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. When Biden learned about what Pete was going through, he flew to Boston to spend the day with him. After that, he called him every single week until his death.
Biden is a busy guy, but this is only one of many stories folks have told about his taking time to support and console others, especially those dealing with adversity and loss. Rather than folding his tent after the devastating loss of his first wife and infant daughter in an auto accident and more recently, the death of his son Beau, Biden has devoted his life to public service. He is one tough, resilient guy, a genuine survivor of unspeakable tragedy. But he also demonstrates and models empathy, a quality so sorely lacking in many of our current political leaders.
To me, this is a big deal. Character counts. Resilience matters, toughness matters, and empathy really matters. Our children are watching. The world is watching.
But the importance of character, especially empathy, goes way beyond the impression we’re leaving around the world or with our kids. Without the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes—whether it be the desperate immigrant seeking asylum, the single parent working three jobs to pay the bills, or the young person drowning in student loan debt—we end up making lousy, tone-deaf policy.
I don’t know about you, but I want to cast my vote for a candidate who is genuinely sensitive to the needs of others and who exhibits the resilience and toughness to enact positive change. Having someone in the Oval Office who exhibits those qualities would really bring me tears of joy.