Cannot get away from it, not even if you lived deep in the aborigine jungles of South America; Bruce Jennings’ transformation to a woman, and a beautiful one at that. I remember Bruce in 1976 as the Olympic gold medalist who kicked butt and later adorned everyone’s morning with his perfect physic on a box of Wheaties. He was a role model and inspiration to other athletes around the world. Now he is an inspiration in another way: to those who are caught between genders.
When we were kids there was a woman we made fun of who lived in our town. We called her “Mary man” because she was a woman but had many features and mannerisms of a man. Years later I found out that she was one of those unfortunates caught between genders and with no source of comfort, assistance, or even compassion. She was tall, but well spoken, yet hardly anyone spoke with her. As a matter of fact her family who were well off and in the upper crust of society, literally abandoned her. I now regret the open callous and uncharitable cruel way we made fun of her, but we did not know any better. Fast forward to this week and Bruce Jennings: the sympathy and compassion gravitas is overwhelming to the point of sainthood. Why is this generation so tolerant and to some extent so much more compassionate than those of us born 60 years ago? What makes this generation so “comfortable” with what we used to consider “strange” or “unnatural?” Were we worse people?
Years ago we were raised in a close confined society fraught with social propriety handed down from generation to generation. Some of it good but other rather nebulous in origin, logic, and reasoning. My theory is that a more educated population, more scientific research, and better understanding of the human physic led us to realize that we are all unique. When I was a child there were two classifications for children: bright or stupid. Needless to say many of us were in the latter category because we were not evaluated by our inherent talents and skills but by the robotic-style of teaching that expected us all to achieve at the same level and pace. What our parents and society considered success was not necessarily compatible to our individual needs and characteristics; therefore some of us rebelled and ventured toward the unknown and eventual successful lives. I do not blame our prior generation either because they did not know any better and did not have the technology that can uncover and determine a child’s gender a month after conception! Education was not predisposed toward discovery, engagement, fulfillment, and self-determination; but rather toward a stable life. “He finally made something of himself,” as my mother and father so often said of others. Forget the aspirations of becoming an artist, chef, singer, dancer, or any other scope in life that would make us who we wanted to be. My father always wanted us to work in banks because that was his preconception of success. Years later it pained me that I could not share the day I became a bank manager with him. He would have beamed with pride and joy! Some of today’s generation go to school and work toward self-fulfillment and measure success with “happiness.” They do not look too much into the monetary side of success but more on the intellectual side of life. They see others as an extension of themselves, and when one of “them” hurts they inadvertently hurt as well. Hence enters Bruce Jennings and his torturous life as a man, or so he put it. The story tugs at the very heart of the liberal social elite as they consider themselves the saviors of the world and the monopoly on “compassionate.” But should we not all be feeling the same way? Should not compassion be the mantra of our very existence? Should not compassion define us as the “good guys?” Compassion should be inclusive, right? But is it? Do we pick and choose what we are compassionate about?
Years ago the Catholic church faced an Armageddon of priest pedophiles who were demonized by the media and the “compassionate” idealists. Pedophilia to some extent is a disease because the pedophile cannot help himself/herself in doing what he/she does. This is the reason why pedophiles should never be allowed to associate with children regardless whether they go to jail or not. They cannot help themselves and they cannot be “cured.” And as despicable as the act is; pedophiles need severe psychological help. Yet the public felt more compassion for the alcoholics and drug addicts than these guys. Why? Probably because we do not like to see bad things happen to children. And rightly so! But similar outrage is absent when it comes to drugs and their horrific effect on our children. As a matter of fact we want to have an open drug society and label addicts and dealers as non-violent folk who deserve better than being in jail. Alcoholics have been known to destroy families and children’s lives but they are also labeled as “sick.” But let one of us mention a Catholic priest pedophile and we might as well mention the second coming of Beelzebub. I am not championing the pedophile priests; I think they were and are scum, but I am curious how this generation chooses its “compassion” activism. Should not compassion be a blanket feeling? Should not compassion spread its white fluffy wings in protection over every “sick” individual? Should we not feel for the plight of every “illness” as defined in current times? Would not the list include: addicts, alcoholics, pedophiles, nymphomaniacs, gamblers, transgender, animal fetishes, electronic fetishes (watch Boston Legal), and other criteria I fail to mention. I am not diminishing the compassion “factor” but I am questioning the way this generation chooses its compassion “readings.” My theory is that in recent years Hollywood has gone on the “compassionate” band wagon, because most of them are addicts, alcoholics, and narcissists themselves so it is easy to “feel for others.” Whitney Houston died of a drug overdose in a bathtub and the world rightly so mourned because we lost an amazing talent, but no one condemned the life style that literally put her under water. Her daughter followed suit and the compassion runs rampant without giving any accountability to a dysfunctional bad life style. Both women had everything a woman would and could desire but chose to take the road to self-destruction. In both cases, the idealists’ compassion quotient is off the chart. The accountability and stupid quotient is negligible and not even mentioned.
I am glad that Bruce Jennings and others like him on both sides of the fence can now find peace with themselves. It must be awful to live in a confusing world and a body that must seem foreign to you. It is equally awful to have others view you as a monster like we had done as kids to “Mary man.” She must have gone through hell especially in the 50’s and 60’s when people in her condition were abhorred and worse: ignored. I am glad that I feel compassion for Bruce because he was an amazing athletic and an overall “good guy.” People like him are an inspiration to others because he had the courage to change who he was into what he wants to be. I cannot start to imagine the pain it took to make the ultimate decision. It is also great that we are living in a society where people like Bruce Jennings are not ostracized but loved for who they are as human beings and for what they have accomplished. I am proud to live in a society where we stand by the Bruce Jennings of this world and cheer them on into success. However, I want society to show the same compassion it is showing Bruce Jennings to others who are not celebrities and whose lives are as just as turbulent and desperate. Our veterans suffering from PTSD come to mind. We ignored them when they returned from WW II, we treated them like garbage when they returned from Vietnam, and we finally accepted their plight when they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
I thank this generation for giving me an insight into myself and for making me more compassionate and tolerant. My regret is that some of the current penchant for compassion is being driven by political and partisan agendas that have little to do with social justice but more with social power. Their display of compassion does not impress me: I find it shallow. So here is my compassion criteria: I do not have compassion for those who insist on living a life style that harms them and those around them. I will not waste my compassion on those who intentionally hurt others under the auspice of “sickness,” and I will not elevate any of the above into victimhood in the name of “compassion.” Compassion is too fragile, precious, and pure to be wasted on fakes, idiots, and degenerates.