Sympathy for AIG

When they talk about teaching empathy, it usually doesn’t involve feeling bad for financial workers who’ve received bonuses from their employers’ billion-dollar bail-out packages. But a class of fourth graders near Houston have sent letters — nice letters — to AIG employees, reports the Washington Post.

(Rebecca Chapman) stood before her students and stoked the populism in their young souls. Pretend you are taxpayers, she said. Now, think about AIG paying bonuses even after the government had committed $180 billion to bailing it out.

“Can you believe it?” she asked.

The children hissed and moaned, sounding much like the elected officials and talking heads who had been eager to out-outrage one another.

“I got them all riled up,” said Chapman, 29.

Then she turned the tables.

“What if you were an AIG employee?” she asked. Imagine if you had not been involved in the deals that ruined the company but were left to clean up the mess. What if you had to pay back money you felt you had earned? What if your family had received death threats?

A student suggested writing letters to AIG workers.

The children adorned their messages with peace symbols and smiley faces, rainbows and vivid red hearts. “Hi AIG. Not all of USA hates you,” wrote one student. “We know you’re not villains,” wrote another. “Keep working hard, dudes! Keep eating your vegatabos!” advised a third.

I find this charming — and odd.