Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Many people in the United States seem to only be capable of empathy toward family or people who look like them… like the anti-LGTBQ politician who softens his stance when his daughter reveals her homosexuality or the white suburban mom crusading against drug addiction who suddenly calls for treatment versus incarceration when the heroin addicts look like her kids.
So it’s been interesting to watch the eruption of protests in the U.S. (and the world) in the wake of the violent murder of George Floyd by police. I’ve been fascinated by the nuanced perspective toward the destruction which occurred in the initial protests as investigations reveal some of the violence was perpetrated by provocateurs. I’ve been surprised that those who have previously seemed unable to empathize with the videoed violence against black and brown bodies, are joining voices with those calling for police reform.
Maybe more citizens have discovered their empathy muscle. Or maybe they are waking up the realization that in a militarized police state, the brutality will eventually impact everyone…
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” ~ Martin Niemöller
Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked