empathy · personal · Writing


how powerful is empathy?

it’s a question that keeps circling in my mind.

A few weeks ago, a colleague posted on Facebook, about a student writing that mass shootings are inevitable. She was disheartened, and refused to believe/adopt this stance. She chose to believe that violence is not our future, and wondered where this fatalism came from, on the part of her student.

I’ve made a similar statement, myself. Working at a university, I expect that eventually I will be on a campus that experiences a mass shooting. I can’t help but assume that, growing up in a culture of violence as I have.

I used to think mass violence was rare, but then I did my research. Perhaps doing ethnicity and race studies makes me see acts of mass violence differently. They aren’t a rarity; they are common.

Government sanctioned and perpetrated violence is common.

Why are we so surprised when this violence is enacted by individuals? Why is that so much worse? Why does it frighten us more?

And what does this have to do with empathy?

I feel like everything comes back to empathy. I’m trying to work it out, work out how practicing empathy can be a form of radical action.

I have nothing conclusive to offer here. Just thoughts, and hurt.

The world suffers, and all I can do is hurt from a distance.

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