The news is abuzz with President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee. Obama was one a professor of constitutional law. Everyone assumes he had a short list of nominees since before the election. He had publicly announced that his criteria included someone with "real world experience and empathy." A lot of people have taken offense at this, saying the law and constitution are no place for feelings like empathy.
It strikes me that the constitution is a direct act of compassion. It is predicated on empathy, the direct and full comprehension of another person's situation. Had we not had a care for the suffering of fellow human beings, we would have had very little motivation to leave feudalism behind. Sure, people wanted a good life for themselves, but they could have gone about it by each fighting to be on top. It could be, our ancestors were just smart enough to realize how counterproductive that was in an interdependent society.
To some extent we continue to operate under that reasoning, but in the last two-hundred and thirty-three years in this country has slowly, but consistently, come to recognize the unnecessary suffering of various marginalized groups and extended to them constitutional protections. It is only through empathy, the understanding of another's suffering, and compassion, the desire to alleviate that suffering, that this has been accomplished.
I hope President Obama understands this and I wish more people did.