Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of others, and to use that understanding to guide one’s actions. It has been touted as a solution to economic, social and political problems, and as the source of radical change in schools and other institutions.
But is empathy something revolutionary or just another passing fad? This series of articles interrogates these questions from a variety of perspectives.

Social change in Shoprite, aisle 5

Millions of Americans use supplemental food benefits each month. Along with the stigma of holding up the supermarket checkout line comes a large helping of empathy with other people.

The Religion of the Future

How can we organize a society that gives us a better chance to be fully alive? How can we reinvent religion so that it liberates us instead of consoling us? A new book provides some answers.

Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' bill: Pastor Martin Ssempa and the anti-gay lobby

You can now be imprisoned for life under Uganda's anti-homosexual law. It was pushed through by religious pastors, whose moralising arm-twisting has silenced moderate voices. If you disagree with them, you may face blackmail.

Demand homes not jails: queer homelessness is being criminalized

Cities globally are starting to criminalize homelessness: banning begging and making free food provision illegal. I work within LGBTQ communities, whose multiple oppressions lead to a high level of homelessness. When I see police disrupting rough sleepers, I remember their life stories.

Benefits Street: how austerity transformed makeover TV

Benefits Street was born from coalition government rhetoric: no one should receive 'anything for nothing'. The failure to transform is always personal. Nobody should be helped.

A year of living generously

Genuine happiness involves sharing time and money, but beware of thinking that the poor belong to some other tribe. Do not judge, presume or patronize. There are no unimportant acts of kindness.

How I stopped watching porn for one year and why I'm not going back

I remember when I first discovered internet porn – I was 17 years old. Fascinated by this world of unleashed sexual expression and fantasy, I couldn’t get enough of it. I thought I'd outgrow my porn habit over time. But I never did.

Why we need radical love to create change

Living on an isolated island with my dog, it was a departure to find myself with 4,000 other LGBTQ people at the Creating Change conference. From Laverne Cox's opening speech to my yoga workshop, I learned that love is central to queer liberation.

#Iceland3: people who take food from bins should be applauded, not arrested

The British court case against three men who "skipped" food from Iceland supermarket has been dropped. But food waste, food banks, and corporate capitalism are the real political scandal.

Aloneness is central to our collective wellbeing

Is spending time alone an escape from reality, or a gateway to more effective social action? A walk can be transformative when no one is babbling in your ear.

Literature, empathy and the moral imagination

Great works of literature are often love-letters to the form itself, but moral philosophy has rarely taken story-telling seriously. The work of Martha Nussbaum shows that the novel is key to social justice, through the role that reading plays in developing our moral imagination

Empathy: lots of lessons but no final words

What can we learn from two weeks of debate?  Empathy must be used to correct injustice, not simply to understand it or feel its associated pain. This is the final article in our series on empathy and transformation

Empathy, democracy and the economy

Democracy is lost unless we re-structure our economies, and re-structuring our economies requires a new system based on different values. This is the sixth article in our series on empathy and transformation.

Muriel Lester and the stench of injustice

Asserting the dignity of all people is a central moving force in the history of social change. This is the fifth article in our series on empathy and transformation.

Roots of empathy: an interview with Mary Gordon

Empathy is central to education for democracy, and it can be “caught not taught” among children in schools. This is the the fourth in our series of articles about empathy and transformation.

Forget empathy – it’s time for radical connection

In the struggle for social justice it’s not how much empathy we feel that makes the difference, but what we do with it in concrete situations.  This is the third in our series of articles about empathy and transformation.

Compassionate economics

What kind of economics could facilitate the liberation of all human beings? A new middle path can transform our relationship to individual and collective suffering. The second in our series of articles on empathy and transformation.

Introducing empathy

Is the “empathy revolution” just a passing fad or the key to peace and social justice? This is the first in a week-long series of articles on empathy and transformation.

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