Who would buy a children’s book about empathy and empathy's kryptonite? Tag an empath.
I write about empathy a lot. I was actually lucky enough to have an op-ed about empathy published in the @nytimes - this piece is a sort of sequel to that. I’m going to keep talking about empathy because it’s really important to me. BUT, there’s room for misinterpretation when I talk about empathy, and I want to clear it up if I can. When one talks about empathy, it can sound a bit “both-sidesy” and lots of people lean into this in their writing. By “both-sidesy” I mean the view that “both sides” need to have more empathy for one another, the view that “both sides” are just as bad as one another. THAT IS NOT AT ALL WHAT I BELIEVE. I’ve also seen the word “empathy” weaponised against members of oppressed groups in exactly this way, i.e. a white person telling a black person, “You need to have more empathy with my position.” and things like that. I am not writing for those people. To make it very clear, I do not believe that the oppressed need to empathise more with their oppressors. I believe that the oppressors, people with privilege, need to empathise more with those they oppress. Sure, it can be incredibly beautiful, and powerful, when someone from an oppressed group empathises with someone from a privileged group. But that already happens enough. And it is never the duty of the oppressed to empathise with their oppressor, and that can only achieve so much. There’s enough empathy for rich, able-bodied, cis, straight, white men; only people with privilege get to tell their own stories, we hear a lot of those stories, and we all empathise with them sufficiently. It is people, like me, with a lot of privilege who need to expand their circles of empathic concern by listening, and believing.
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I'd love to write something relevant, but my neighbor is making these loud moans again. They frighten me. I'm not sure what they're about.
Best part about the Family Circus is that you know why it should be funny, even though it's not. You never walk away from The Family Circus feeling like you missed something.