Ask Jesse Episode 10: Michael Brooks & Empathy

Click here to listen to full episode on YouTube

Show Notes by Jesse Crall

Last week, political commentator Michael Brooks died from a sudden illness. I shared the following in other spaces and thought I’d reprint it here:

Through his work on his eponymous YouTube show and The Majority Report, Michael produced a remarkable array of analysis on political affairs both international and domestic. The knowledge he brought to global movements made him a peerless figure in his realm and the platform he gave to other luminaries like Adolph Reed and Abby Martin created an indispensable outlet for left-wing coverage.

Michael also shared immense humor in his work, ranging from absurdist to joyful to cutting. “Nation of Islam Obama” was a particular highlight, as was an all-too-brief riff imagining Chris Matthews as a Tulsi Gabbard superfan. As the primaries took a grim turn toward the usual corporatism and COVID further darkened our political landscape, Michael never failed to bring spark even to serious explorations of the current moment.

I interacted with Michael a handful of times via Twitter and am hardly alone in noting how kind he was. More than that, he brought fairness and openness to work that can easily turn sour and cynical in light of our unjust political systems. To retain a sharp, critical eye toward the people & currents governing our world without falling sway to bitterness and hostility made him unusual and, in my case, a guide for my own personal limitations.

There won’t be another Michael Brooks but thanks to his archives and the influence on tens of thousands of regular viewers, I am certain there will be many who carry his ideas and spirit further down the road.

Show Notes by Victoria Lynn Hall

I referenced the above livestream by Michael Brooks several times during this episode. By the time I watched it he was already gone from this world, which perhaps made me listen more closely and take in the full impact of his words. Coincidentally, that was, in a way, what he was asking people to do, not just with him but with each other.

He talks about how cultivating compassion, empathy and awareness involves things that he viewed as “the antithesis of social media” such as long term thinking, seeing complexity and “the attempt to constantly humanize and not dehumanize your fellow humans”. However, as Jesse pointed out during our talk, social media is what we make it.

So my suggestion would be to cultivate compassion, empathy and awareness by developing our capacity for long term thinking, seeing complexity and humanizing our fellow human beings right here on the interwebs. How do we do that? We stop scrolling and sharing memes long enough to really talk about what is going on in our lives and really listen to each other. And that kind of serious, deep communication requires the change of consciousness that Michael also talked about. To make that change requires courage, strength, determination and a willingness to endure the discomfort of our own vulnerability – a difficult task to be sure but one that I believe can have a significant impact on our world if only enough of us would bravely undertake it and support each other in doing so.

My hope is that Amplifire Project can be a community that sets that example. If you are interested in contributing your story, please see our Share Your Story page.

Watch the full episode below or on YouTube where you can subscribe to all of our video content. We would also like to thank Kim D. for contributing her fabulous song, “Corporation Coup” for use as a theme for our videos, you can find the full recording of this song at:


Episode 10

Jesse Crall

A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.

A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.

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