On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, two men held a vigil in downtown Nashville in front of the Public Square Courthouse. The night was cold, and the crisp air was filled with a startling disquiet. It seemed appropriate.
As these two men talked and cried over the events of the previous night, a young homeless man approached. He asked, “Why are you so upset?” The men explained the details of the election and why it was disturbing to them. The young homeless man posed his only other question: “What are you going to do about it?”
The men needed to be asked this.
In the days that followed, the men struggled with the answer, pushing themselves to figure out a way to take a stand against the hatred that was unfolding, as if it had been validated by the election results. Gay men, Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans–all of these groups and more had felt the wrath of a society that had forgotten how to feel the plight of others. And the answer came to them.
Empathy. Empathy was the answer.
The ensuing weeks, they worked countless hours to devise a plan to spread, teach, and model empathy–the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, the ability to walk in another man’s shoes. And The Humanity Project was formed.
On February 28, 2017, The Humanity Project will launch its efforts in Nashville, creating discussions on empathy using the arts as a catalyst. The month of March will feature round table discussions following arts performance, at libraries, and in community centers.
Please watch for more information about The Humanity Project and its efforts to answer the question of a young homeless man, to respond by demonstrating “what they are going to do about it.”
It all starts with empathy.