Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hooper: Lawmakers in Tallahassee in dire need of empathy lessons

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.

Hooper: Lawmakers in Tallahassee in dire need of empathy lessons 04/23/17 [Last modified: Sunday, April 23, 2017 7:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.