Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A New Chapter: Post Election Empathy Building

Trigger Warning: Election Results and Political Beliefs. I will not be responding to negative comments, these are my opinions and I have tried to state them respectfully and expect the same from everyone else. 

As we enter a new chapter in the United States of America, post election 2016, with the winning of Donald Trump, a man that has publicly bullied, ridiculed, and made a point to state he would like to register Muslims and deport illegal immigrants who he blanketed as rapists, drug dealers, and killers, we have come to a point where we need to come to a reckoning of who we thought we were, who we professed to be, and who we may actually be and then decide who we want to be. 

I think that a big part of this is building empathy for others. I either developed or was born with a highly attuned since of empathy. I tend to feel what others are feeling. Empathy is the ability to actually share in the feelings another has, to react the way they do, and to have a really deep emotional reaction to events that may not effect our own person, but do effect them. Without empathy it is a lot harder to step outside our own situation to understand someone else. This can make it more difficult to see their point of view. 

One thing I think will help us in preventing some of the horrific things some of us have imagined happening (rise in hate crimes, rise in sexism, rise in sexual assault, mirroring of Nazi Germany or even closer to home Japanese Internment Camps or the Red Scare). You can feel free to disagree that these are things President-elect Trump wanted, but his rhetoric, Twitter feed, and reactions to reporters or at his rallies speak stronger to me than anything you can tell me. 

One thing I think I can do is help build empathy and understanding in myself and my children. One area that had been shown to really help in empathy building is reading books that take us outside our own situation. Since books are something I love anyway I feel like trying to choose a book to read to myself and one to read to my children each month is a great way to help us engage in making a difference in the world. By putting these choices out there I am hoping to help spread the empathy buildling beyond our home. I would love to have people discuss the books as well. What did we learn? What were we surprised by? What challenges did the characters face? 

I understand that this is not enough and it is not all I plan to do, but I think it is something all of us can do to create a country where we are more able to have dialogue that is productive and to be able to understand where others are coming from. I truly hope others will join us. 

This month I want to read The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. I heard a great segment on the show On Being with this author which is what inspired me to want to read the book. I suggest listening to the show as well. I suggest looking at a local library for the book or if you have a Kindle or want to purchase the book you can follow this link

The children's book we are reading this month is The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was one of my favorite books as a kid and looks at how sometimes government can have the right intentions, but another view may be needed. 

I hope you will join us in reading these books and will ask others to as well. 

Just an fyi, if you follow these links to Amazon and make a purchase I am an Amazon affiliate and would receive a small amount from Amazon, it does not cost you anything else, but does help me to work on this blog.

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