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Empathy with bats

Tell me, do we always need a personal interest in something for it to be of value?

Interviewers on the radio have riled me recently, with their interrogation of the producers behind TV series, documentaries and films. They’ve been discussing new releases – a programme about gay life in London, a film about robots, and a documentary on the history of bats.

Usually, mid conversation the white-middle-class-heterosexual-interviewer-from-the-home-counties growls:

“And, what’s in it for me?”

I generally stop everything and put my hand up at that point, yes even if I’m in middle of a tricky parking manoeuvre, eager to answer on the interviewee’s behalf.

“I’ll tell you what,” I say, “the blissful experience of stepping outside of your immediate world. Yes, the opportunity to leave what you know, see life how someone else lives it, perhaps experience empathy with someone you previously didn’t understand. ”

Imagine if we only ever picked up a book or watched a film that featured a protagonist modelled on someone from our immediate circle, was set somewhere we’ve been, or touched on a subject we studied at school. Hell, I’d be restricted to a reading list exclusive to Alexander McCall Smith and only be able to digest period dramas by Jane Austen. I wouldn’t know a thing about bats.

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A playful story seeker, Pip helps businesses communicate better.

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