173. Empathy

Empathy towards strangers is learnable. So why are some of us so uneducated?  

I'm not always empathetic towards strangers. During the Paris terrorist attack I wondered why Muslims weren’t decrying this heinous attack. Spoiler alert: They WERE decrying it (I was just too angry to see it) and they didn’t have to. You don’t expect Christians to apologize for every insane Christian. They'd spend every Sunday apologizing half the time. 

My mind changed after a single act: meeting Muslim people. We helped a family from Syria as they were welcomed in our community. The “them” became “us.” Their amazing cooking skills and easy laughter will always stay with me.

How do we get this to happen to people? There's value in learning that we are all extremely similar. We all worry about COVID, we all want to protect our own, we all occasionally leave skid marks in our underwear and never really talk about it.

I’m the most introverted person I know, and I still have been able to meet Jewish people, Muslims, black, brown, DACA recipients and more. There’s got to be a way to make this melting pot happen outside of your typical DMV; in a respectful, comfortable and insightful manner. Perhaps more like a Comic-Con panel than an awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

I guarantee you that I will err again. That I will lack empathy at some point. At this very moment, I am out of empathy for Trumpians who deny my own existence as an immigrant. I tried to talk and understand at the beginning, but three and a half years have been too much. I don't owe empathy to people who think I shouldn't exist.

Extra panel: 

There’s more than one kind of poverty.


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