One of our greatest human traits is compassion, which means, literally, “to suffer with another.” But this high art is seldom born in an instant as a response to watching the TV “news,” or even in response to firsthand experience.
More often compassion’s seeds are sewn via a preliminary magic known as empathy.
And empathy begins with a fictive act:
What would it be like to be that black girl four rows in front of me? a little white girl wonders in school one morning.
Her imagination sets to work, creating unwritten fiction. In her mind she becomes the black girl, dons her clothes, accent, skin, joins her friends after school, goes home to her family, lives that life. No firsthand experience is taking place. Nothing “newsworthy” is happening. Yet a white-girl-turned-fictitiously-black is linking skin hue to… Read More