Please read this column by the Boston Globe‘s Jeff Jacoby, about how he treated a young Greenpeace canvasser who showed up at his door asking for a donation. She included a swipe at Trump in her pitch. Jacoby told her that even though he was not a Trump supporter, his family is conservative, and not going to donate to Greenpeace. He suggested that she go down the street and ask at houses on the same street, especially ones with signs out front indicating the liberalism of the residents.
The young woman said she had stopped at one of them, and “it didn’t go well.”
Then she burst into tears. Excerpt:
“I’m so sorry,” she said, half-sobbing, half-panting. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I’m crying. It’s just really hard, and everything is so concerning, and — ”
“Hey, shhh, that’s OK,” I said, coaxing her into the living room. “Sit down for a few minutes. Take a deep breath; clear your head.” The tears kept coming. I hurried to the kitchen for a box of tissues. When I returned to the living room, she was still weeping.
“I don’t know why I can’t stop,” she said. “This is so unprofessional. I think I must be dehydrated.”
I brought her some cold water. My wife came to sit with us. We asked the young woman her name and introduced ourselves. As she wiped her eyes and sipped her water, she told us that she had only arrived in Boston a few days earlier and was staying at an Airbnb, having been flown in by Greenpeace from her home on the West Coast. She believes in what she is doing, but to keep her job, she has to meet a quota — so-and-so many donations per month. Door-to-door canvassing is easier with a partner, but she is alone, and so many people are unpleasant.
“I can’t believe I’m having a breakdown in your living room,” she said. “But I’m really upset about what’s happening. I worry about what’s going to happen to people I care about.” It gnaws at her to see how angry so many people are these days. She wasn’t raised to hate people whose politics were different from hers, she told us. At the same time, she’s frightened for the future — her future, and her friends’, and the planet’s.
Maybe I’m biased because Jeff Jacoby is a friend, and I know him to be a kind and generous man. I would not have expected him to have treated this young liberal woman in any other way. Still, this is quite a snapshot of the present moment in American life. The Globe headlines the column, “A Nation On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”. That seems right. This idealistic young woman, pushed hard by her convictions, her fears, and her employer, finding human connections extremely difficult to make. That night, she met a couple, the Jacobys, who didn’t share her beliefs, but showed her ordinary neighborly compassion. Who gave her rest.
Seems to me that if America is going to be saved, it won’t be by activism and the channeling of political passions, but by that kind of simple humanity. That’s what I think about when I think about the folks at Front Porch Republic.