What makes The Other human?

Berlin, a brisk fall day. A woman enters a café and, in English, tells the person behind the counter that she lost her wallet and asks for a glass of water. Unimpressed, they roll their eyes and shake their head. “Please!” Watching the scene, I get the sense that the people running the place resent the high number of tourists visiting them every day. The woman asks again. Not even a glass of water? As he gets ready to leave, a man hands her a 5€ bill. “Oh my god, thank you.” He smiles and shakes his head. The person behind the bar looks away and cleans glasses.

Later that same day, I’m on the S-Bahn headed home. A woman walks through the train offering exactly one copy of the magazine Motz, typically sold by homeless people. Her dress marks her as Roma. She stops in front of every person for about 2 or 3 seconds before she moves on to the next. Visibly uncomfortable, every single person on the train looks away; some shake their head. As I hand her a 10€ bill, we look at each other and smile. After 2 seconds or so, she moves on.

What makes The Other human is the empathy that we extend to them.

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