American comedian Sarah Silverman is unapologetically blunt in her fight against misogyny. But Silverman has also made a point of exploring the depths of her own empathy.
“I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things?” she said, after her dear friend and fellow comedian, Louis CK, was accused of sexual harassment. ”I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims.”
Last week, Silverman demonstrated similar level-headed compassion when subjected to sexism and harassment herself. After tweeting about an article describing her honest attempts to understand Trump supporters, Silverman received a crude response from a Twitter follower:
Instead of ignoring the insult, or responding with equal aggression, Silverman took the opportunity to test the neutralizing impact of unexpected love. She took the time to read the Twitter feed of the man who’d harassed her, Jeremy Jamrozy, then gracefully responded that she believed in him, validating his pain and encouraging him to see love in himself.
In response to Silverman’s disarming gesture, Jamrozy opened up, explaining that he’d been hardened by childhood abuse, countless let downs, and long-standing back injuries, which he couldn’t treat because, he said, he is poor. Silverman and Jamrozy’s exchange is below:
Silverman then asked if the man uses heroin, as he identifies as a “junkie” in his Twitter bio. He responded “No I just smoke weed. I’m prescribed medications which I take accordingly.” She tweeted back:
Silverman accepted Jamrozy’s apology, telling him she “didn’t care,” and sharing an insight from her own therapist:
Then, instead of leaving it at kind words, Silverman leveraged her 12 million Twitter followers and financial power to find back specialists in San Antonio, Texas, where Jamrozy lives, to treat his slipped disks. She offered to pay his bills entirely:
Within minutes, she had responses from clinics willing to help Jamrozy. One week later, Jamrozy was able to get an MRI which showed he has five herniated discs, My San Antonio repoted. Silverman offered to pay for his back treatment in full, a gesture that Jamrozy says motivated him to donate money he already raised through a GoFundMe page to help other San Antonians in need.
“I was once a giving and nice person, but too many things destroyed that and I became bitter and hateful,” Jamrozy told My San Antonio. “Then Sarah showed me the way. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
Silverman and Jamrozy’s unlikely connection has resonated with many as an outlier amidst the brutal, self-centered bash-fest that social media often becomes. Entering a new year, Silverman’s selflessness and Jamrozy’s vulnerability offer a powerful antidote to cynicism and hatred.
Most of us don’t have the financial means to foot a stranger’s medical bills, but we all have the capacity to say the simple words Silverman said to her would-be troll: “I see you,” and “I believe you.”