Yes, he shows empathy

by Emily Willingham

At least, I think this means he does.

You may have heard that Michael Jackson has gone to the Great Moonwalk in the Sky (or perhaps it is the real Neverland). Unless you live on top of a mountain in Tibet, you’re probably aware of his passing.

True confessions: I’ve never owned a single Michael Jackson recording and even though his successes were contemporary with my formative years, I never really cared much about him. I thought “Thriller” was novelty pop, and his music inspired no passions within me. And in spite of the fact that I know that pedophilia is a compulsion, I have zero sympathy or compassion for pedophiles, and I can’t mentally erase “Jesus juice” from the history of MJ’s life. There. I said it.

Anyway, I was reading, as I do every evening because if you’re gonna have junk food for the brain, may as well go for the best…and I was surfing it when TH came in. He saw a picture of MJ ca. 2008 and said, “Hey, is that the person who used to be brown but now is white? I’ve heard about him.” (TH is very literal about skin color).

“Yes,” I said. “He used to have darker skin and a different face.” And I surfed over to handy Google images and googled up a comparison graphic of MJ pre-whitening/nose sharpening and MJ of more recent vintage and clownlike visage.

TH was intrigued. “How did he do that?! He looks like a white woman now.”

“Plastic surgery and some skin treatments,” I responded.

He pondered a bit. “Plastic surgery?” he said, a query in his voice. Then, after considering, he said, matter-of-factly, “He must not have liked himself very much.”

(Did he have Daddy Joe to thank for that? Maybe.)

Now… that’s empathy, right? Concise, insightful, in-the-other-person’s-shoes, theory-of-the-minded empathy. So there.

About the Author: Emily Willingham is a biologist, writer, editor, and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Biology. She is the mother of three boys; her eldest has Asperger’s Syndrome. This piece first appeared on her blog, A  life less ordinary, and is reprinted here by permission.



2 thoughts on “Yes, he shows empathy

  1. Jean says:

    Most “normies” don’t have that much empathy. What a wonderful moment. Your little man sounds gorgeous XXX

  2. chavisory says:

    Wow, yeah, that’s empathy, and theory of mind, and way more of either than I had at his age. Wow.

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