Let’s get things straight: an empathetic person isn’t weak. An empathetic person is strong.
Weak people have been all over the Internet and television the past 36 hours. One lost her job by saying it was all right for terrorist Stephen Paddock to gun down hundreds of people in Las Vegas because in her opinion, they were supporters of Donald Trump.
Still others are busy gathering social media “likes” and retweets or shares by repeating whatever sentiment is popular among their group of equally weak-minded individuals.
I just returned from school this morning in which the students’ lesson was about describing complex emotions using concrete, physical words and examples. We watched Brene Brown’s video about empathy, and her TED Talk on empathy.
Brene ends her TED talk by describing how we stop living when we stop confronting painful emotions like fear, vulnerability and shame and try to bury them with addictions like drugs, booze, and food. We can’t just shut the negative emotions off, Brene says. She explains that the process means that we shut the good ones off too.
“I was in that shooting Sunday night,” one of my beloved students said. She stood after the end of the video. “It wasn’t all horrible like you see on the news. It was beautiful too. There was a lot of beauty. I want people to know that.”
She and her boyfriend were in the first eight rows at the very end of the concert watching Jason Aldean when the shots rang out. First, a bullet went through a young woman’s shoulderblade and exited her chest. Another bullet struck a young woman in the back of the head. My student and her boyfriend were splattered with blood and brains.
They started running. He shielded her with his body.
She says they took shelter in a trailer for a long time.
The shooting went on a lot longer than was featured on the news.