Empathy for Every Soul
As we come to the end of a very difficult year, 2020 stands out as a time when we lost an extraordinary number of souls who should not have departed this Earth this year. We remember and honor those who lost their lives to the global Covid-19 pandemic. We remember and honor those who lost their lives to climate change-induced disasters–massive fires in Australia and the Western part of the United States; devastating hurricanes and storms around the world; drought and hunger. We remember and honor those who lost their lives to police violence and racism. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Elijah McClain, Andre Hill, and hundreds more. We mourn the loss of musicians John Prine, K.T. Oslin and Charley Pride; actors Nick Cordero and Carol Sutton; and many thousands more, including the elderly in senior care, and our front-line workers, from bus drivers to nurses.
This year, the words “Say their name” became an important phrase. Names signify individuals, not just categories like “Black” or “Gay” or “Elderly.” And so this year, we said their names. We learned about each person–their families, their lives, their passions, their personalities.
The new Pixar movie, Soul, is a most appropriate ending to this year of extreme loss. Its creator, Pete Docter, says, “one of the aims of this movie is to say that just by being alive, we all have value. We all deserve to enjoy whatever we have.” Every soul on Earth is important.
I have a friend who frequently reads the obituaries–not looking for people she knows, just making the connection with individual people, as their loved ones tell us about each cherished person. It is very moving to read these stories, and to see the similarities that connect us, and the things that make each person special.
Here is one of the millions of souls who have been memorialized this year:
Let this be our New Year’s resolution: Let us recognize and affirm that every soul deserves our empathy, respect and love.