A lesson in empathy.

A reminder: Just because it’s not happening to you or not affecting you, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
 
If you are a straight person, talk to someone (or a lot of someones) from the LGBTQ community about what it’s like to have people deny you services, have your government deny you rights, and have people view you as evil, vile, unworthy, or sub-human, all because of who you love. Ask them what it felt like to be granted the right to marry, only to be faced with the very real prospect of having that taken away.
 
If you are an able-bodied person, talk to someone with chronic health issues or a disability of some kind… aka “pre-existing conditions.” Ask them what it’s like to be denied healthcare, to be excluded from consideration for basic necessities all because of how their body works. Ask them, too, what it’s been like to finally have access to healthcare, and what’s going to happen if/when the ACA is repealed and how that’s going to impact them financially, physically, and emotionally.
 
If you are a white person, talk to a person of color about what it’s like to grow up in a country that killed and worked to suppress the native population out of the belief they were all “savages.” A country that was built on the beaten backs of black people believed to be and treated as sub-human. Ask them what it’s like to be denied services, jobs, or healthcare, all because of the color of their skin. Ask them what it’s like to see hate in the eyes of other people to whom they have done nothing but ask for equality. Ask them what it’s like to grow up afraid, what it’s like to just want to be seen and treated as completely equal, only to be met with resistance because so many people can’t seem to believe or accept that there is a real problem and, by doing so, continue to perpetuate it.
 
Ask a woman what it’s like to have her healthcare dictated by the government. Ask her what it’s like to not be able to make her own medical decisions without her morality being called into question by people who aren’t impacted by the situation and won’t have to live with the outcome. Ask a woman what it’s like to be treated like property instead of like a human being, to be denied rights because of her gender and the assumption that she is somehow less competent or capable. Ask a woman who has been raped what it’s like to be told she should carry that baby to term. Ask a woman raising children on her own what it’s like to be viewed as a drain on the system, regardless of her circumstance, because of the assumptions made when she applies for SNAP. Ask a woman who works what it’s like to be passed up for promotions or paid less money because of the body she was born into.
 
If you have a good-paying job, talk to someone who works two or three minimum wage jobs trying to make ends meet (and doesn’t have healthcare provided by any of them). And then ask them what it’s like to be told, “You’re just not working hard enough.” Ask a person who relies on social services to put food on the table what it’s like to live with the shame of not being a good provider, because in our country if you don’t succeed, it’s your fault. Ask a person who grew up unable to afford a quality education what it’s like to be faced with the rest of the country’s denial that their experience was at all different or that it impeded their ability to succeed, that the playing field wasn’t level from the start.
 
If you’re a Christian, ask a person of any other faith – but particularly Muslim – what it’s like to live in a country where its leaders encourage blind hatred and racist rhetoric against you. Ask them what it’s like to walk down the street and be called names, to be viewed suspiciously all because of what God you believe in, or the color of your skin, or the clothes you wear, even though this country is supposed to encourage religious freedom (for ALL, not some).
 
TL;DR If you don’t believe something is a problem, even after talking to people who tell you it is, maybe ask yourself why that is. Ask yourself how you would feel to experience something, only to be faced with an entire nation who doesn’t believe you.
 
And if you DO believe it’s a problem but don’t care because it’s not affecting you… well, your heart ain’t a place I want to be.
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6 thoughts on “A lesson in empathy.

  1. I have spoken to many poor and fairly uneducated descendants of immigrants from Europe in the past several months; (and being me, really, I’ve talked to many most of my life). A lot of them believe that all of these things you mentioned – poor wages, lack of education, no health care; etc. – shouldn’t apply to them because of the color of their skin. They believe that their hard work should be rewarded too. That if they work hard enough, they can achieve the “American Dream”. And yet, for centuries, their families have struggled to put food on the table. They wonder why everyone else keeps getting the Rights that they have always had, and often seem to prosper, while they wallow in despair. They don’t realize that classism exists. They don’t realize that the rich man in the suit will never share his table with them. They have lived their lives waiting and hoping and praying and being told that, “just around the corner, tomorrow, next election, you’ll get that slice of the American Pie…” And it never happens. I feel just as sad for them. For they don’t even realize that they too are oppressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be one thing if they didn’t realize the classism exists and were content with their lives, but to carry that hope around, that disappointment, and to not understand WHY, thereby perpetuating the hope (and inevitable disappointment) within themselves… woof. As long as we keep repeating the message that you can achieve the “American Dream” no matter what, even though we all know it’s not actually true, we are complicit. It’s irresponsible, and it’s what allows people to keep thinking that the same opportunities are afforded everyone – they’re totally not.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So far, since Wednesday (I’m not counting the times before) there have been a multitude of incidents from kindergarteners all the way to adults, bullying, name calling, sexually assaulting, harassing, fighting, and even destroying property in the name of Trump. All of the things we were actually afraid of being made to seem okay because he did it is happening. Something will have to change for the better. Because I can not abide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have so many different concerns around all this. I think my main one (at the moment) is that there are people out there who do not (and apparently CANNOT) see a problem with all of these things. Arguing and swearing up and down that it was all happening before, that it has nothing to do with DJT being elected, and that really, it’s us who are at fault. Too sensitive. Etc. How can you fix things when people don’t believe there’s a problem?

      One day, one step, one incident, one word at a time, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

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