Advocate for Empathy

Walking over. A path made by feet from the convenience store to the projects. This is my neighborhood – were feet make their way, not just cars. Evidence of humanity all around. A car parked by the corner of projects and MLK school & bridge. Door’s open, I say hi to the woman in the front passenger’s seat.

Kind but reserved “Hello, how are you?”

“Well, I’m blown away by all the white people in this neighborhood.” The entire front seat constituency loses their composure and falls away laughing. “They are getting to see all this, a wide hand gesture to the neighborhood.” Yeah, uhu, mmmhhhu, all around.

“We even gotta brother in black kelt. A Black Kelt!!!” Joint high fives for progress.

“What bridge is this?” Ryann Ridley VCU sophomore studying criminal justice to become a lawyer, from somewhere between Lynchburg and Roanoke.


“This is what Martin Luther King died for. And from a gun.” Amber Allen, from LA, and has been directly impacted by gun violence. “I feel like this has been going on for so long. In school, we had drive-by-shooting drills.  Years ago, I’m 30. It’s not just limited to the schools you know. That’s why we have to have these conversations with our kids. Cause it could go left at any moment. Thanks for having so much empathy.”

What did I hear? “We teach impulse control and how to communicate.” If society can tap into this communal depth of knowledge on how to communicate and behave, we could have such progress. Share it without the violence associated with it.

This, while nearby marchers chant “No Guns,” “Enough is Enough,” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like.”

It is old regime vs new. Guns were part of survival, life on the farm, the wilderness and rebellious Revolutionary politics. Guns were revered for their role in safety. Now, life is urban. Let the current life be reflected in our laws. The census bureau hasn’t even had “farmer” as a category since 1990. We can talk to get our needs, not have to survive them.

“Owning guns will be seen like what owning a slave is now.  There will be a time when no one would own a gun even if they had the right to. Gayle Wright, a master naturalist wearing her high school t-shirt, circa 1960’s.

I understand all the fear from those not part of these thoughts. They correctly sense their way of life is done. The #metoo, the anti-petroleum lifestyle, the move for public transportation above car ownership, environmentalism above capitalism, no more gun violence, women in charge – yeah it’s pulling the rug out from underneath people. Looking them straight in the eye and saying many of the things you thought were right are wrong. It’s tough and I have much empathy. Now, grow up. Deal. The change has already happened. Stop being lost in the wake of a moving reality and getting tumbled around, gulping for air. Ask for a hand, take the one given, and you’ll find it’s better up here where the air is fine.


I know an individual who cannot wait for the rapture. So excited to see Jesus return. Her ilk is glad the elected politicians of America look like they are bringing on the end of the world. It’s the sign they’ve waited for all their lives. Today’s marchers want to emulate Jesus. We want to be kind to strangers, love everyone, support each other, be guided by peace, and tumble the money grabbers upside down in the temple. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” “You will go on to do greater works than these.”

Worlds are ending. How metaphoric and how realistic will it be?

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