How To Have Empathy In The Trump Era

As the national atmosphere became increasingly divisive during the presidential election, some begged the question: Where is the empathy for others? The theory was that our ever-expanding national divide was due to a failure among voters to relate to each other not as ethical rivals, “deplorables” or the “crooked elite,” but as partners in the civic process.

It was difficult enough for progressives to walk in the shoes of Trump voters - who managed to pull the lever for their man despite his many bigoted statements - during the campaign. But what happens now, when we must deal with a president whose administration flouts constitutional protections and pushes policies such as the Muslim travel ban that hurt real people? How do we ask people being disenfranchised to empathize with the very people whose votes empowered their disenfranchisement? What is the function of empathy - a cherished Jewish trait (“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9)- in an age when resistance may be a more appropriate action?

The Forward asked some of the country’s leading empathy experts to try to answer those vexing questions.

Gail Golden, MBA, P.hD. (psychologist and business consultant)

Roman Krznaric (social philosopher, author, and founder of a roving institution billed as the world’s first Empathy Museum)

Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell (co-authors of “There Is No Good Card For This: What To Say And Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, And Unfair To People You Love)

Lana Adler is the Forward opinion fellow. Follow her on Twitter, @Lana_Macondo

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Author

Recommend this article

How To Have Empathy In The Trump Era

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close