|I’ve taken a break from writing. I’ve jumped face first into reading and audiobooks again. Which is so common for writers. If the words aren’t falling out with even a little bit of ease, I never force it. I’m a sponge now. Soaking the knowledge and the new words. |
Which is funny because this weekend, my oldest is the one and only SpongeBob in SpongeBob, the Musical. Which is also funny because I never allowed them to watch that obnoxious mess of a character when they were little. The musical, however, is very different. It’s all about acceptance, empathy, and goodness. Which leads me to this month’s topic: Empathy.
Once in a while, if I am not busy and I am actually home when the teenager arrives home from school, I take our dog and sit on the porch to watch them walk down our pretty suburban street—headphones on, in their own world, listening to their favorite music…probably reflecting on their day. Their dreams. Just like I used to do in the car with my Walkman. We all did it, right?
Yesterday was one of those days—only yesterday they pulled their headphones off and ran into my arms in a sobbing mess. “I’ve been holding it in all afternoon, mommy.”
We held each other tightly. “What’s wrong, honey?” I asked into their gorgeous thick curls that smelled the same as when they were three. Like my child. “We watched the Anne Frank movie in English, 8th period.” Sob. Sob. Heaving sobs. “Ohhh….Okay. Let it out.”
They wanted to know why no-one else seemed as affected—using everything in their teen tool box to hold those tears back in class, even gaining the discreet attention of their lovely teacher, Ms. Kartikis, who pulled them aside to check on things. Engage in meaningful conversation. “Mallory…you cannot assume no-one else was affected. We all react, process, emote differently.” I may or may not have said it aloud. I cannot remember. But I thought it. There’s a high chance others were as affected.
This is WHY we cannot ban books. This is WHY we cannot censor art and movies and literature. It builds empathy and understanding. I took it as a parental victory that they cried their eyes out. For an hour, on and off. This is how we build teens into adults that vote, protest, and fight for what is human and surrounded in love. Not power.
“How could they do that to them, mommy?” “How could they do those things?”
EXACTLY. How could they?
We need to feel discomfort. We need to see and read and hear the truth. It’s about humanity. We need ALL of the books. ALL of the art. ALL of the poems. All of the lyrics. “I kept putting myself in Anne’s shoes. Imagining I was giving my food to my sister in the camp.” And so what are some easy, minimal things we can do to show support for groups who needs the most empathy?
1. If you’re local, attend or contribute to Toms River Pride Day.
2. If you’re not local, find your town’s Pride Day and help out.
3. Buy books that teach empathy. here are some to begin with:
Tyler Johnson Was Here
The Beautiful Something Else
That’s all I have to say this month. Lots of love and empathy your way…it’s not political, it’s human.