By Dr. Jane Xu, PhD in Behavioral Sciences 

In his first address to the Congress on February 28, 2017, President Trump honored Carryn Owens, wife of Navy Seal, Ryan Owens who recently died in a Yemen raid. Mrs. Owens was apparently overwhelmed by grief and by the tribute from not only the President but all those in the chamber of the Congress who gave her a standing ovation and repeated, prolonged applause.


While this emotional moment brought widespread support and sympathy to Mrs. Owens, a few people responded very negatively. Particularly disrespectful was a twitter user, Dan Grilo, who tweeted, “Sorry, Owen’s wife, you’re not helping yourself or your husband’s memory standing there and clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you.”


That was deeply regrettable. It is a gross lack of compassion for those remarks to be made to a grieving widow going through tremendous emotional pain and suffering.


Mr. Grilo indicated in his twitter account that he was a volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and earlier, that of Obama's. Remember that one major campaign message Mrs Clinton, and Mr. Obama, ran on was "compassion".  I wish Mr. Grilo had taken to heart the true essence of the word "compassion", not just its use as an empty campaign message.


Compassion is a profound emotional response to the pain or distress of others, with an active desire to alleviate such suffering. Mrs. Owens was obviously in great emotional pain and suffering. Mr. Grilo's tweet not only failed to demonstrate a compassionate response to Mrs. Owens, but by smearing and name-calling, he may have actively added to her pain and suffering instead of alleviating either.


Such behavior speaks revealingly about one’s sense of compassion, or lack thereof in Mr. Grilo’s case, more than any public declaration or preaching of compassion, as a campaign message or otherwise.

No wonder Mr. Grilo’s tweet has generated an outpouring of condemnation. He and those who acted similarly should reflect on their behavior and in so far as they are able to, effect a meaningful change in their own lives and by extension, benefit and not detract from the society we all inhabit.

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