“I want to work on a solution. I want to have conversations. This experience gives me hope. I feel like a shift will come out of this.”
~ JacqueRae Hill, flight attendant with Southwest Airlines
Hostility within species precedes humanity by millions of years. Our nearest relatives, the chimps, are tribal and, at times, even genocidal.* This fact astonished and saddened Jane Goodall, who originally believed that chimps were always peaceful.
Thanks to human’s exquisite capacity to empathize, we are able to transcend the racial and cultural differences that would otherwise divide us. This following story illustrates how empathy and conversation heal ancient wounds of division.
On May 29, 2020, JaqueRae Hill, a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, awoke feeling overwhelmed with grief to learn that peaceful protests in the US had turned to violent riots. On her way to work she focused her attention on giving the best to her passengers, despite the pain she was feeling. “God please help me get to work today.”
Hill noticed that one of the boarding passengers had the book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo.
Hill helped seat passengers and made them comfortable. Then, she then sat down next to the man reading this book and inquired, “Hey, how are you? So that book, how is it?”
THe passenger talked about the book and he expressed sadness for ongoing racism and any part he may have unwittingly contributed to it. Touched by his deep empathy, Hill became overwhelmed and began crying tears of gratitude for the heartfelt connection.
HE then introduced himself as Doug Parker, the CEO of United Airlines.
“I was thankful if he was a random person that had no influence. But because of his position in life, the fact that he’s reading that book. He does not have to educate himself. And the fact that he is, I just think that speaks volumes as to the work we all have to do in trying to bring ourselves together.”
For more information check out:
* Genocidal Chimps – Martin, R. D. (1974). “The Predatory Behaviour of Wild Chimpanzees, by Geza Teleki. Bucknell University Press, $15”. Oryx. 12 (3): 387–388. doi:10.1017/s0030605300012084. ISSN0030-6053.