The Hard Thing About Empathy

“One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgment, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is that it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.”

– Tim Kreider from “We Learn Nothing”


Importance of Details

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

– from Phil Jackson’s “Eleven Rings”

Find “Home” and Remember It

From Kendrick Lamar’s Momma:

I met a little boy that resembled my features
Nappy afro, gap in his smile […]
He looked at me and said, “Kendrick you do know my language
You just forgot because of what public schools had painted
Oh, I forgot, don’t kill my vibe, that’s right, you’re famous
I used to watch on Channel 5, TV was tapin’
But never mind you’re here right now don’t you mistake it
It’s just a new trip, take a glimpse at your family’s ancestor
Make a new list, of everything you thought was progress
And that was bullshit, I mean your life is full of turmoil

The ambiguous reference to “ancestor” could be referring to a historical home (Africa), a geographic home (where you grew up), or a mental home (back when things were simultaneously simpler and more complicated). The little boy could be Kendrick’s former self, or a kid just now growing up where Kendrick did, or a kid whose life trajectory branched off from Kendrick’s when K’s ancestors came to America.

In any case, provocative: find what home means to you (for all its good and bad), understand fully where you are at, where you came from, and where you should be headed. A piece of you lingers at every weigh station you spent time at.

A reminder to myself more than anything. Great album.

Self-Critique and the Critique of Others

Dangers of Self-Critique without Critique of Others:

– Delusion
– Overconfidence
– Fear
– Overwhelmed
– Incomplete reasoning

Dangers of Critique of Others without Self-Critique:

– Delusion
– Overconfidence
– Fear
– Overwhelmed
– Incomplete reasoning

Self-Critique + Critique of Others:

– Knowing when to listen to yourself
– Knowing when to listen to others
– Knowing that you are consciously incompetent
– Knowing that you are improving
– Knowing how and why you are improving
– Perspective
– Assumption testing
– Filling in incomplete reasoning
– Knowing what the devil’s advocate is
– Knowing what your biggest fan looks like