Dear Friend of Cross Road,
This is a
ďRubinís Vase.Ē It is a reversible two-dimensional figure that represents
either two persons facing each other or a vase. In deciding which part is solid
and which part is space, the viewer chooses which image it appears to be.
Without access to the third dimension of depth, what it truly is cannot be
settled by argument but only by appealing to the intention of its designer.
our national debate about abortion, health care, welfare, employment,
immigration, etc. most opinions now seem to be lining up along two alternating
perspectives: one focusing on social equality, the other on personal liberty.
The first views greedy individuals as the source of our nationís ills and
government institutions as the solution. The latter sees institutional
overreach as the problem and individual ingenuity as the solution. Here it also
seems impossible to settle the argument without appealing to the intentions of
those who hold these different views.
regard, our recent commemoration of the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy
offers some insight into the different intentions of these two perspectives. The
press, as ally to the institutional view, focused on the promised support of governmental
leaders and the fact that they pushed through Congress a $50 billion relief
bill for the victims (while allocating another $9 billion to the National Flood
Insurance Program). Barely mentioned were the facts that $33 billion of that bill
went for pork projects and that of the $17 billion designated for actual relief
aid, only $700 million has been released so far. For the individual victims
however, the true heroes were their neighbors who came voluntarily, i.e.
without pay, to man the relief centers, help families clean out their homes,
and make sure that no one went hungry while waiting for the institutional aid.
leaders tend to be sympathetic; they understand and feel sorry for the sufferings
of others. This sympathy, while thoughtful, harbors a secret satisfaction that
they are not the victims. Individual neighbors are more empathetic; they
identify with that suffering and feel called to help. Because they take the
problem personally, their empathy taps an energy that prompts them to act.
than not, youth tend to focus on equality. Their outlook is sympathetic,
idealistic, institutionally oriented, and ultimately self-centered. With age, oneís
focus normally shifts towards personal liberty and becomes more empathetic,
pragmatic, individually motivated, and other-centered. The problems we are
having in our society today may be traced to an embarrassing lack of mature
adults in this latter group. Many of our institutions seem to be led by perennial
adolescents, i.e. adults who never learned to accept responsibility for their
reason, I have been particularly impressed by a new group of fifteen volunteers
who have joined us at Cross Road. They are all empathetic, pragmatic, seasoned
citizens. I am both impressed by their sense of responsibility and inspired by
their desire to give of themselves to help the mothers in need. Five of them
will be working in our parenting program, three will serve as receptionists,
and seven are training to be advisors. With this added help, I am hopeful that
from our new location we will be able to reach more women and couples across
the Island who are in need of both encouragement and support with their
indeed two ways of looking at the problems plaguing our nation. The institutional
view, though well intentioned, is bleak and leads to an endless path of
regulations in a futile effort to enforce equality. The
individual view is more promising in as much as it encourages personal
responsibility along a way that leads to a more independent and authentic life.
To the extent that we can focus less on our sympathetic leaders and more on our
empathetic neighbors, we will find a basis of hope for our nationís future.
Thank you for
your continued support of our work.