Friday, October 7, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air: HONY

Bite Sized | by Diana Galban


I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Mash-Up Americans (highly recommended, btw) and Amy Choi said something that made me look up from my  coffee immediately: "Ok so I have a confession... I feel like lately I am just living in shouting caps, I'm just like, WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD?!" I couldn't agree more. 

Yesterday I wrote about how online hate makes me feel like crying on the inside. This election has a powerful halo which is more like the rim of a mushroom cloud and I feel like every day I wake up with just a tiny hint of fear constantly pinching me in the back. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old and later became an American, so I am particularly worried about what's going to happen to people like me. Aside from a few snide comments about my Miami accent, I've never been treated particularly different as a member of the Hispanic community, but will that change next year?

So I find myself looking for ways to see the humanity in people, outside of the hateful rhetoric. In early September, Hillary Clinton spoke to Brandon Stanton about an experience that changed her as a young woman: 
I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’
I think a lot of women could relate to this feeling, and the topic of "emotions" and particularly "lady emotions" and whether or not they prevent you from making proactive and difficult decisions in your life are at the forefront of our current times. But this is the beauty of Brandon's work with Humans of New York, making you nod "me too" as you read people's stories. 

What started as a photography project morphed into an encyclopedia of human stories that make you experience all of the feels. There is nothing more unifying than being confided an inside look into a person's life. I constantly find myself thinking back to moments where I had a conversation with someone unexpected about their fears in life or was shown a side of them I didn't know before and how it instantly changed our connection from that moment on. HONY has this magic quality that makes you feel less alone and fills you with empathy for people you don't know. 

And I think we can all use a little bit more empathy and kindness in our lives. 

PS: Humans of New York has now expanded into other countries and there are different series you can look through, from "Inmate Stories" to the stories of refugees from all over Europe.  

{ Image via Humans of New York }