Compromise is the cauterizing of our collective soul. The 3/5ths compromise is just one example of our collective soul compromising and cauterization. As a nation, we have a history that is not consistent with our pledge to be “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
I realize the pledge of allegiance is fairly recent, but our first document, the Declaration of Independence declared that “all men are created equal” . . . what was written between the lines was who our founding fathers did not consider to be “men” or “created equal.” For this reason, I believe we have seared souls. My experience as a 21-year-old mother is one I often think of when I’m considering our collective cauterization of soul.
I had a son, David. Due to medical mistakes, David had severe brain damage caused during the birth process. Because of a loss of oxygen, he lost all “primary reflexes.” David lost his reflex to suck and swallow because of the brain damage. A feeding tube was surgically inserted near his belly button that went straight into his stomach. Every three hours I attached a large shot syringe to the tube and filled it with the breastmilk.
David’s surgical wound did not heal well. To help heal the open wound, the doctors gave me some long Q-tips that were saturated in silver nitrate. I used the Q-tip to burn the skin around the surgical site to help the site clot and form a scar. This burning hurt David, but I got used to it.
Similarly, where we should bleed, and groan in agony at the pain of others we have learned to endure the pain of others easily, with callous disregard . . . the callous is the cauterization of empathy, of our humanity. As a 21-year-old mommy, I learned to ignore the pain, and do what was needed in order for David to be fed and medicated. I had to become hardened to our pain, our survival required it.
In recent years I have remembered using that Q-tip to burn the bleeding skin on David’s belly. I have thought about how it eventually did cause the area to stop bleeding . . . and me to justify the pain I had to inflict for his best interest. I have thought about how in our American history we so easily justify creating or ignoring pain for our own comfort. We feel no concern, empathy, or compunction to solve the problems created by the forefathers who felt no guilt when they enslaved children and sold people from their families. What we now consider to be sex slavery has been common historically.
In more recent days, we have seen children in cages, separated from parents who came seeking asylum from south of the border. We have seen Amaud Arbery chased down and shot for simply running through the neighborhood where he was perceived as a “suspect” by people who presumed the right to detain and kill him because he “wouldn’t obey” their commands. We have watched unbothered officers stand by to hold off a crowd of observers pleading for the life of George Floyd. His life was snuffed out by an officer kneeling on his neck in spite of the pleas for his life.
I am dumbfounded. I can only conclude that we have cauterized souls. We have become so accustomed to the pain of people who we (as a nation) justify abusing, that we have seared our own conscience. We have seared souls and consciences.
Unlike my experience with David, we have severed our consciences for conveniences such as political preference, profitability, and personal comfort. Every time we have a national tragedy, we take the soul sulfur, and burn our spiritual skin once again in an attempt to soothe our own discomfort, while the groans and bleeding of our brothers and sisters continues unmedicated and un-soothed.
We are a nation of compromisers, of soul cauterizers, and of murderers. If it helps us feel better or be wealthier, we will compromise. We have become so hardened toward humanity that we (as a collective) have colluded to accept anything that makes us feel and look better.