McCain’s death is an opportunity to reaffirm our basic humanity

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By Michael d’Oliveira

In William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Shylock talks about recognizing our common humanity.

“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”

Senator John McCain died this week. And while he wasn’t the person Shakespeare wrote about, he was a fellow American and a fellow human being.

His death is terrible, but it also serves as an opportunity for all of us to forget about politics for a second and respect the terrible pain and grief his family and friends are experiencing. The war hero who endured years of imprisonment and torture is gone.

The Senator who voted for the disastrous invasion of Iraq is gone.

The presidential candidate who defended his opponent as a “decent, family man” is gone.

The father and husband is gone.

The man is gone.

All that remains is the legacy.

It’s a legacy that people are well within their rights to criticize or praise as they see fit. But John McCain, the man, should be afforded a certain level of dignity and respect after his death. We all should.

Now is not the time to rhetorically dance on his grave.

I know because I’ve done it with people I didn’t like. I was wrong to do it and I’m sorry for what I said. So, this is not about criticizing some others for the things they’ve said. This is about all of us doing better. Now and in the future.

Our common humanity should be a way for us to reinforce our common love and appreciation for America.

When we forget about politics and act like decent human beings in times like this, friendship and understanding grow. It gives us a chance to see each other as human beings and Americans instead of liberal or conservative or democrat and republican.

McCain said so himself in a final statement released after his death.

“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.”

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