5 good reads on courage, empathy, and gratitude

During the past week of global grief and mending, we’ve found stories that examine how media can help populations connect and build empathy. These stories resonate with Images & Voices of Hope’s work around Restorative Narrative — stories that show how people and communities are making a meaningful progression from a place of despair to a place of resilience.

Here are our top five picks…


Photos of the Disappeared Among the Living”: In this Vice Media Broadly story, journalist Alice Driver chronicles the murals that memorialize the disappeared and the lives of those who continue living among the lost. Driver’s photo-essay captures the resilience and changing light of a community shaken by loss and the emergence of street art that serves as a means of protesting and grieving the lost. Driver writes, “In Mexico—a country where an average of 11 people disappear every day—absence becomes a part of daily life. The faces of the missing peer out at you from newspapers and are plastered along the streets of any city you visit.”

In 2015 Driver returned to Juárez, Mexico to present her book, More or Less Dead, about the disappearance and murder of women in Juárez. On her return Driver found “a new campaign among graffiti and other visual artists and activists to put up the faces of disappeared girls on walls around the city. While I did see many of those haunting works of street art, I also witnessed the particular life and otherworldly light of the city. This photo essay tells the story of a day in the life of the city, of what it means to continue to live among the disappeared, who are gone but never forgotten.”


Chasing Lost Innocence: Healing After Sexual Abuse: In this Indian Country Today Media Network story, journalist Mary Annette Pember reports on Sunny Red Bear’s difficult and courageous fight for justice. Red Bear, a young Native American woman, who suffered years of sexual and emotional abuse by her adoptive white father, found the strength to speak out against her abuser and share her story with others to help them heal.

Pember reports: “Red Bear recently began publicly sharing her story in writing and poetry, as well as presentations at workshops and conferences for abuse survivors. She describes her work as the pursuit of lost innocence and the solace its reclamation brings. Her goal is to offer hope, courage and direction to other survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Red Bear’s story, although painful, is filled with unusual twists that seem to have destined her for something remarkable.”


“Paris, Beirut and cultivating genuine empathy in the digital age”: In the aftermath of global tragedy, Ariel Sophia Bardi examines the exclusive, inclusive, and complicated ways in which people mourn publicly. This Quartz story exposes multiple debates over the politics of grieving and expressing genuine empathy in the digital age and Bardi offers suggestions for how people can build more empathy.

Bardi writes: “If the digital age can provide us with a platform to air our (selective) grief and outrage, then the ease of global communications can also give Westerners a means of opening their eyes, ears, and hearts to other cultures.”


“Virtual Reality, Empathy and the Next Journalism”: Wired’s interesting interview with journalist Nonny de la Peña explores how journalist and media makers can use virtual reality goggles to tell real-life stories and build empathy in viewers. Projects including Project Syria VR, An Immersive Journalism Experience and The New York Times’ Paris 360 Vigil  lets viewers stand with populations around the world. In de la Peña’s opinion, VR journalism has the ability to make viewers understand tragedy from the “inside out, not just as another headline.” When asked how she thinks VR will transform mainstream journalism, de la Peña responds, “Journalists will realize really fast that VR has a unique power to place viewers on the scene of an event—instead of watching it from outside—and that that’s a really powerful way to engage them emotionally.” NeimanLab recently reported on how broadly media is embracing virtual reality.

De la Peña’s TED Talk explains how VR journalism can help place the audience inside the story.


“The Science of Gratitude”: This NPR special feature, narrated by Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, “combines scientific research with personal stories illustrating the benefits and obstacles to feeling truly grateful.”

“The past 10 years have seen an explosion in the scientific study of happiness. The findings so far are complex, and incomplete. But if they could be distilled into one simple prescription for happiness, it would probably be this: Say thank you.”

Click on the player below to listen to the entire program:


Scroll to Top