In a poignant essay for Electric Literature, memoirist Lori Jakiela (Belief is it’s Own Kind of Truth, Maybe) looks back on the time she spent working the church kitchen on bingo nights, and what it taught her about life and writing:
Empathy, like writing, can be about kindness or it can be an aggressive act, both. To assume to know things about strangers without really knowing them is a kind of violence, I think. It’s using other people as stand-ins. It comes across as something selfless, when it can be just the opposite. I’ve done it both ways. I might be doing it both ways now.