Friday, February 09, 2007
Empathy for Anna
i just finished having a pretty good conversation with my students. it's always interesting when pop cultures offers up a teachable moment. one of my students is pretty upset about anna nicole. she says she just feels so sad and she's not sure why. of course the calloused child in the classroom took this as an opportunity to try to make her feel stupid so i felt it was my duty to step in. i asked her what she was feeling and what did she know about anna nichole.
she said,"i knew that she had done a lot of scandalous things like marring a really old man and being labeled a gold-digger. i know she would grant interviews and appear at events drunk or high slurring her speech. Her reality show was pretty embarrassing. she was the first girl who didn't look like she'd blow away to be a model for guess jeans. that makes me proud of her."
"is that all?" i prompted.
her voice cracked she said, "i also know that she had a baby and lost a baby a few days from each other. that she was being sued for paternity and other stuff. that she was unhappy and had fought so hard to maintain some kind of dignity. i think she gave up because all of a sudden life seemed to hard. it was easier not to be here. i mean even looking at her baby girl something that makes people happy had to bring her pain. a constant reminder of what she'd lost. i really think she died from complications of a broken heart. this world, people, love can break you. she was broken."
she started to cry.
hell i cried.
i stood hugging her for a long time. the other kids were glassy eyed but to tough to let the tears spill. i told her, "while i don't know everything about everything and i am no authority on anna nicole, i think you reaction is normal because you are human. the human in us allows for sympathizing with others. what you are displaying with your emotions is empathy."
she asked what that was.
"it's an attribute that young people are often accused of not having. it makes me proud that you are human and that even when others are broken you can feel the human in them. very admirable. please don't lose it. it doesn't make you weak or crazy to empathize with others it makes you human, reminds you that you are alive and you value other alive things and that you feel a connection when they are gone. being human is a good thing."