These are strange times. While we try not to be political, we recognize that at the heart of our work lies the goal of encouraging all people to care for the planet AND for each other. We believe that time in nature can foster that compassion and that empathy. That’s why these words written by former Wildwoods Foundation Board Member Tracy Quinn of the Natural Resources Defence Council struck a chord. We believe that she expresses a sentiment that needs to be heard, loudly and clearly. With her permission, we share that now.

Our country has an empathy problem and a logic problem.

Too many times we see a person in need and instead of asking how we can help, we make assumptions about the choices they must have made to put themselves in that situation. This lack of empathy has led us to make illogical decisions that hurt our communities and our economy.

  • We don’t want to provide free housing to the homeless even though it has been demonstrated to be a more cost-effective way of dealing with the homeless population and provides a much better opportunity for them to contribute to society. Why? Because it feels like we are rewarding people for the bad choices we assume they have made.
  • We don’t want to spend money educating and rehabilitating people who have committed crimes. Why? Because it feels like criminals deserve to be punished, even though research shows that education and rehabilitation results in lower recidivism while prison just produces better criminals.
  • We don’t want to provide free birth control, which has been shown to reduce abortions. Why? Because it feels like we are rewarding women who had sex for a purpose other than procreation, even though we know that universal abstinence will never be a real answer.
  • And then…
    We don’t want to provide welfare to mothers & their children because we feel that we are rewarding women who should have never given birth if they couldn’t afford to take care of them.

I wonder what Jesus would do if he were alive today. I’m pretty sure that if he saw a person begging for food on the street, he wouldn’t call him lazy and yell at him to get a job.

We are one of the richest countries in the world… If we work on our empathy; realize that our singular experience is not everyone else’s experience; stop making assumptions about the choices and circumstances of our fellow Americans in need, and just help each other – this country could actually be greater than it has ever been.

Well said, Tracy. Well said indeed.