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Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I had a nasty reaction to a similar image 20 years back. It might have been during after the Rodney King Verdict. I can't remember if I was living in Modesto at that time or not.

We were watching a riot on the news. And I said, "Can you believe these people stealing!"

She said, "I don't know I've never needed toilet paper when I couldn't go out and buy more."

I was speechless. The thought hadn't even occurred to me. Talk about being unaware of your privilege.


People don't loot in middle class and rich neighborhoods because they've never had to knock on the bathroom door while their child is peeing to remind them not to use too much toilet paper because there's not going to be money to buy more until the first of the month.

And long before that riot on TV, on the younger side of teenager-dom, I'd actually seen a refrigerator with a metal strap around it with a hole for a pad lock attached. 

I was visiting a friend's house for the first time. I stared at the refrigerator out of the corner of my eye for a while. I didn't want to ask and be rude. That probably lasted all of two minutes.

When I asked my friend's mother what the pad lock was for, she said she'd bought the refrigerator used and that she didn't know. But then she came clean and added that she'd seen other refrigerators with the locks actually on them. She told me that people locked up their food to make sure that nobody in the family eats too much on any given day. they don't run out of food before the first of the month. 

But I'd forgotten. Elia Martin(ez) called me on my crap, blunt but gentle, and helped me see outside of my normal. And I'll always be grateful.


Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.” Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist , Nuremberg trails

In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949)  I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men.

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist assigned to
watching the defendants at the Nuremberg trails