Let me be clear. As all of us gain wealth and power to any degree, we become less aware of and concerned about other. This is what the research tells us. We would like to think we are exempt from this, but it doesn’t happen that way. With more resources we can apply to our self-interest, the more the compass of self-interest overshadows our moral compass. This isn’t just Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas and his daughters and their friends going to Cancun when their communities are in crisis.
Ted Cruz said he was just “trying to be a good dad.” His daughter wanted to flee having to live in a “FREEZING” house. Schools were cancelled from the power outage. So, recognizing her resources, she had the idea of going to Cancun with her friends. Ted, supportive of this, thought he should go along.
This, while other parents in Texas were being good dads and moms by teaching and modeling civic mindedness, taking inspired initiatives to help others. As with the pandemic, in response to the dangerous weather, power outage and inability to get clean water, people in Texas moved in two different directions, depending upon which compass had priority. Many found ways to help their neighbors and their community. Some organized phone trees to check on the most vulnerable.
In response to the same conditions, others, like Ted Cruz, move to protect themselves, leaving their communities to fend for themselves. Early in the pandemic, New Yorkers with second homes fled the dangers of the city, leaving others behind to deal with it. Back in the gas shortage in the 70’s, while people were waiting in long lines to fill the cars they needed to get to work, John Denver had a large gas tank installed on his beautiful mountain property and found a way to fill it.
The cliché “We’re in this together,” does not apply to everyone. While in a widespread state of emergency throws many people into the same life raft, there are some who have their own yacht. All there is to counteract this is universal identity and morality, both of which need ongoing strengthening. Native Americans refer to “our people” as the subject of a sentence. Others think of the divine in everyone, or that spiritually we are all one, while our senses tell us we are separate beings. It takes discipline.
Civic mindedness is also learned and reinforced through modeling, as in parent to child, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. This is my greatest sadness for Ted Cruz’s children and their friends. We can only hope that the pushback touches their hearts. We all do need the mutual accountability that comes with pushback.