Something about Empathy, Something about Trust

So this happened:

And then this happened:

And watching the second video, I literally started to cry. (Which is not an easy thing for me these days.)

There’s something here about empathy.

Of all the topics that are considered taboo and hard to talk about during this interview, the interviewer and Amanda Palmer land on first and for a considerable time is…empathy for people who do terrible things. The interviewer seems perplexed by and almost disgusted at the thought of having empathy for another human being. Which made me sad. But then again, I am having a hard time having empathy for the politicians who are pushing forward with policies and legislation that will harm so many millions.

But maybe it’s because things are too abstract, and they are not hearing the human voices over the din of the lure of wetiko and money.

But I have to remember that they are human underneath it all.

This article has helped me wrap my head around some of the nuances and tensions and historical context of why Chinese immigrants have stumped for Trump, of why my partner’s family would’ve probably voted that way if they had voted at all:

A pro-Trump rally near the Trump Tower. Photo by April Xu.


There is also something here about trust.

I played this interactive guide to the game theory of trust by Nicky Case, and his footnotes always stick with me as well.


“Because, contrary to popular belief, coming up with Win-Win solutions is hard, takes lots of effort, and is emotionally painful. Heck, I’d go even further – I’d say our culture’s default stance of Win-Lose “us versus them” is the easy path, the lazy path, the equivalent of activism junk food.

“Anyway. Exaggerations aside, I strongly believe “Win-Win” / “Non-Zero-Sum” is something we all urgently need — in our personal lives, social lives, and definitely political lives.”

And then there’s something here about…Is this the work of art?

A few days ago, I went to a U.S. Department of Arts and Culture event in Portland called “Cultural Organizing — Oregon Style”. At the event, there was a woman there who was a longtime resident of Portland and who has seen the disinvestment in East Portland firsthand, and who is now in school for community development so she can help people she went to school with who are now on the streets. She was fully present and wanted to hear our ideas, but she kept repeating that she might leave to go to a Prosper Portland meeting next door to hear about economic development instead. I interpreted this as if she was humoring us artists when the real work was happening next door.

And when I introduced myself as an artist, she said, “Good for you that you are able to self-actualize.” She was smiling really big when she said it, and at the same time I sensed an undertone of resentment or a knockdown…the same way I feel when I say to my friend about a cis white male exercising a lot of privilege, “Good for him for having so much faith in the universe. ^_____^”

A recurring theme/thought that keeps occurring in my heartmind, is that there is a lot of work to be done on the ground (the logistical activism, governing, social change that happens incrementally through coalition-building, policy-making, action-oriented kind of changemaking), AND then there is also the emotional work that needs to be done, to get to a place where we can hear and see and understand and trust each other again.

Which requires a lot of acknowledgement of the hurt that has occurred and atonement and forgiveness of said wrongs.

Something here about feeling the feels we need to feel.

Something here about being able to take the time and space we need to do that.

Which is the micro that I’m writing about with Slowingly, which has a macro lens as well.

But am I willing to legitimize that (art)work that needs to happen? The work I need to do as an artist as complement to the work that I need to do as a fledgling, floundering activist?

There is something here about hope.

The hard truth of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which also brings a release of light shined on it all, an exhale of seeing in words something that’s so un-articulated un-literated in our current day milieu.

citizen.jpg  urbanalchemy.jpg

The optimistic community-restoring, place-remaking, city-reimagining work of Dr. Mindy Fullilove & Co. in Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities.

Fullilove outlines nine elements of urban restoration that will help stop the soruce of injury and restore an “urban ecosystem’s wholeness”.

  1. Keep the whole city in mind
  2. Find what you’re FOR
  3. Make a mark
  4. Unpuzzle the fractured space
  5. Unslum all neighborhoods
  6. Create meaningful places
  7. Strengthen the region
  8. Show solidarity with all life
  9. Celebrate your accomplishments

The video of the protestors that I started this post with, standing on the steps of the Capitol, celebrating a win for healthcare, for humanity. That is why I was overcome with emotion.


There is something here about love.

I find so much inspiration, so many lessons in how to show up from the Little Lobbyists and from ADAPT.

It reminds me of something I read somewhere on Twitter about how no one is more patient in the face of uncertainty, in the face of hardships than the parents of children with disabilities.

Powered and fueled by love.


One thought on “Something about Empathy, Something about Trust”

  1. hi!,I like your writing so so much! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your article on AOL? I require an expert on this space to solve my problem. May be that is you! Looking forward to see you.

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