Feb 8, 2012

building connection with stories

Tony Macias over at Witness for Peace has done up a beautiful video (below) with testimony and photos of Inocencio Hernandez, a Oaxacan farmworker, talking about why he went to the US to work, and why he went back. It's well worth watching. But what struck me is that on the page where he introduces the video he starts with one of these calls to build empathy by relating it to your own experience that I've posted about before. He writes

"One of life's big truths is that most things don't matter until they happen to us. From the momentous (say, loss of a loved one) to the trifling (hair loss), we just don't focus in on realities until they become personal to us. The phenomenon of migration is global, historical, and complex, and it's inconsequential to people who aren't forced into it.

But that's not really true, is it? Maybe we're all migrants: In 2006, 50 million US Americans changed homes and 8 million of those changed states when they did. Ok, moving across town involves absolutely zero danger and loss when you compare it to what undocumented migrants struggle through each year (Read here, here, and here if you don't believe me). But what remains true is that we know something about uprooting ourselves, and we do it for similar reasons (economic motivation, for instance). This doesn't make us all the same, but it's a chance for us to relate better to one another."

Now this is a comparison I think works to build solidarity more than appropriate - because it also highlights how the experiences are different, and because of that magic last line.

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