~The Year is 1979~

      I use Kati as an example of the differences between Pity, Sympathy, 

and Empathy. Here is her story...

 In 1979, I travelled to San Francisco, to do an article on Homosexuality
as a Socio-Economic Phenomenon. Each morning, I woke early and walked
the wondrous streets, chit-chatting with shop-keepers and the other
friendly people I met. Then, we met....she was a filthy, sore-infested
  Bag-Woman, begging for money. I said no, I would not give her money.
Before she could swear at me, I said "But, I WILL take you to
breakfast". There was a nearby bagel and pastry restaurant, so we went
in there (though the staff was undoubtedly pissed). I asked her name,
she stuttered and told me it was Kati...with an "i". Now, up to this
point, I had pitied the Homeless. I was in San Fran for 10 days. I told
Kati that I would buy her breakfast every morning on one
condition...that she had to tell me her life's story. 

The doors of sympathy were opened.

For ten days, Kati was there at 6:00AM on the dot.

We had breakfast and watched the people in the streets. She liked being
on the inside of the glass windows. Her husband had been a riverboat
captain on the Sacramento River Delta (a large network of canals north
of here). When the highways were built, he found himself and his family
with no money. His spirit, being broken, lead him to an early death.
Kati's three children abandoned her after not too many years. Kati would
laugh about the "old days". She became animated and vocal...telling me
her stories. Being a widow with no children to support her, she found
herself without a home and on the streets. She was not mentally ill,
yet. You see, the worst degradation of the human spirit is to be
    ignored. People look THROUGH you, never AT you. It was as if she didn't
     exist. Her psychosis had begun. I was the only person she had met who
     engaged her and wanted to hear her speak. At the end of the ten days, I
      bought two medical kits. I took her to one of the city's fountains and
     washed her feet and sores. I then treated them and bandaged them for
     her. I gave her the other kit that she could carry in her shopping cart,
so that the sores would heal.

I transferred to San Francisco State University that Autumn because of
their Egyptology degree and program. On a fluke, I went to the
restaurant one early morning. There was Kati. I smiled and greeted her.
She became very agitated because I knew her name and she had no idea 
who the hell I was. She became very upset as I tried to speak with
her...telling me to leave her the f*ck alone. As a final comment, I
asked her why she was in front of THAT restaurant. 
She said she liked the view and then she stormed away.

I also have a degree in Urban Sociology. As a natural, I spent the one
month Christmas vacation, doing another study. 
I became homeless for the month. 
I DID keep a room in a flop-house with no heat, little lighting
 and a bathroom that would scare fish. I kept a journal at night. I, too,
 experienced what it was like to be "invisible" and detested. The police
harassment, the disgusted looks, the degradation...all of it.

I empathized with the plight of the Homeless. I noticed after a couple of
weeks that I was becoming severely depressed and lonely. By the end, I
was scaring the heck out of myself, wondering if I could function in
"normal" society again. It took another month before I felt like myself
again....I SHOULD have seen a Therapist, but didn't as I did do this
study on my own.

At my former Church, they were asked to host a number of Homeless
families as one of the Shelters closed. The congregation didn't want to
do it, but felt pressured. They were afraid and wondered what they
should tell the Homeless. I took over the meeting at that point and told
them in ways that could not be misunderstood..."What you do is SHUT UP.
You have nothing to say that they want to hear...try listening to them
this time". It went over quite well. A few folks were pissed at me for
being so "real" about the subject.

As a personal obligation, I worked in the kitchens of a Shelter (only my
own illness keeps me from doing it today). I gave them the damn best
meals I could on our budget. They knew that and gravitated to me
(empathy again??).

You see, pity is cheap (imo), sympathy is almost there, BUT empathy will
last forever. You can't undo empathy, no matter hard you may try.

I am sure Kati is dead, 
so I dedicate this story to her and her journey..... 


~This page is dedicated to Kati~
and to Will who passed from HIV.

I treasured this letter he wrote me.
I still do.



This is "Part 2"-It is Wills'
"Viewpoint on "LIFE" from his front Porch.
You must read this awesome writing of his!

Girl Courtesy of:
Sherriberri Graphics

Would the artist who owns the MUTED Backgrounds
       I wish to give PROPER CREDITS for your GRAPHICS!!
Dreamworks by Dee