My Story: Maintaining A Sense of Empathy Within Activism

By Saniya Ghanoui —

MB talks about how important it is to empathize with people, especially when we don’t know what traumatic experiences they have had in their life.


MB: One thing that I’m always struck by is like again like I, everyone’s, I don’t want to say privileges but like the things that affect people, you might not realize surface-level, you know what I mean, so like just you know somebody on the street might just seem completely, you know, normal whatever, but they have like traumatic pasts, like nobody’s traumas are like advertised [laughs].

And I think that one thing that being an advocate you need to realize, or you don’t know anyone’s full story, so I think that I think privilege is something so tricky because it’s not always visible. Some things are, obviously I’m a white woman. I’m also a queer woman, you know I can’t relate to someone who’s experienced, you know, like situations of like sexual threats. So, some of these experiences are universal but I think, I think the whole privilege debate definitely has weight, you know, but it’s like, I’m always careful not to make sweeping statements, you know, I think that’s the key. [laughs] It’s like don’t assume you know anyone’s struggles until you talk to them, and I think that’s the most important thing is maintaining a sense of empathy within activism.  

OBOS Today: Yeah, no that’s really great to hear. I think it takes a long time for people to actually, you know, be able to gage something like that. And again, because of all this information that’s just at the tip of our fingers and every time we go on social media, we’re just bombarded with information and it’s just, it’s difficult, those words, those phrases, those ideas, they stick into your head and it becomes difficult to really, um, I guess [pause] kinda’ understand that in the context of the life that you live, and what you’ve experienced and, you know, what other people, which you don’t personally have experience, it just becomes hard to kinda’ combine the two, you know? So yeah, it’s really great that you have this, you know, outlook and this, you know, approach to advocacy and activism.