The Beginning of Empathy

It has been a terrible week for all of us in the U.S., to varying degrees. We couldn’t catch our collective breath before we had another public tragedy to grieve, and another, and another. I lamented on Twitter that in addition to sick days, our jobs should give us “crushing sadness for the state of our society” days, because I honestly felt such despair and powerlessness that it was hard to get out of bed. And I realized that I say that as someone speaking from a place of privilege. I wasn’t directly impacted by the murders I saw on the news this week, except that I try to practice empathy. It’s messy and I certainly haven’t mastered it, but I keep trying. What I’ve seen lately is a whole lot of people who seemingly have lost the ability or willingness to imagine the world from someone else’s perspective. Empathy is one of the tools God has given us to help in the hard work of loving our neighbors as ourselves. But it isn’t enough on its own. Imagining what someone else thinks and feels is fine, but God also gave us the gift of story. And if we want anything to change, I think it begins with simply listening.  Continue reading “The Beginning of Empathy”

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I Am Not a “That”

It was a little after 9pm, barely dark. I was walking across the campus of the hospital where I work. My shift lasts until 1am, and if it gets really late, I will sometimes ask the Public Safety officer for a ride. But it was not late, and it’s only a few blocks’ walk, so I didn’t even think about it. That is until a couple of minutes later, when a man in a car at the stoplight stuck his head out the window to yell, “Whoo, baby! I want some of that!” Since I was not carrying anything, I can only assume the “that” he was referring to was me — or the sexual pleasure he imagined he would get from me. I was sufficiently startled that I changed my route in case he followed me, and made sure to pass by the Public Safety building. It made me angry that I have to think about such things, no matter what time of day it is. Continue reading “I Am Not a “That””