Author and educational psychologist Michelle Borba delivered an important message at Thursday's annual Frameworks luncheon, sharing how it's never been more important in this increasingly self-absorbed world to instill empathy in our youth.
Citing both empirical and anecdotal evidence, she made a compelling argument on how children can benefit from the social and emotional learning Frameworks annually delivers to 45,000 Hillsborough students.
But one thought prevailed during Borba's speech: Please present to the Florida Legislature. No group in this state needs an infusion of empathy more than them.
State Sen. Frank Artiles resigned last week after an alcohol-fueled, profanity-laced tirade against two other senators, but that's capital city culture. Borba says empathy can't emerge without changing the culture.
What good does it do for Artiles to resign if those privately excusing his behavior think his only mistake was getting caught?
What's needed, as Borba so brilliantly explained, is respect. This isn't political correctness run amok, it's about leading with sensitivity, dignity and decency.
Imagine a Tallahassee where lawmakers are more empathetic toward teachers, the poor, mentally ill, children, immigrants — all of us. Imagine Democrats and Republicans working together. Imagine senators Tom Lee and Jack Latvala putting Tampa Bay above their personal feud.
Imagine lawmakers driven more by thoughtful compassion and less by uncaring ideology.
I want to be Michelle Borba's unpaid agent. I want to lobby to get her before the Legislature.
And then I want Borba to go on to Washington, where empathy is in even shorter supply.
That's all I'm saying.