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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.

“Bright words:” finding common ground in environmental negotiations

We cannot create what we cannot imagine, and to imagine we need stories and words to tell them.

Advice for future corpses

When we allow death to happen, we are not killing people, we are caring for them.

If you oppose Donald Trump, please don’t hate him

When we allow ourselves to fall victim to hatred, we are doing our opponents’ work for them.

Refugee-to-refugee humanitarianism

The realities of care-giving belie the assumption that male refugees, especially those from Muslim backgrounds, pose an inherent threat to Europe.

I love you just the way you are

Why kindness matters, personally and politically.

Fire and fury: the psychodrama of a very stable genius

Donald Trump is portrayed as a narcissist, but what exactly does that mean?

They rode on horseback to deliver babies: a century later, midwives are still crucial

“I grew up with mares foaling and cows calving. I knew critters could do better than that; kinda figured women could too if given the chance.”

Does kindness matter?

Like spraying water on a spider’s web, research reveals the taken for granted infrastructure of human relationships.

The real clash of civilisations

The presence or absence of conscience is perhaps the deepest human division.

What democracy looks like when you have to disagree with your neighbours

As much as I dislike the administration of President Trump, I value community harmony very deeply.

Stereotyping Appalachians only feeds the coal Industry

As a fifth-generation coal miner, I see the region’s Trump signs and pro-coal stickers as symbols of defense against a world that looks down on us.

Passive patience is oppressive, but active patience can help us all

Does your commitment to justice override your desire for comfort?

Why stories matter

Stories cultivate the frequently forgotten yet uniquely human traits that build solidarity.

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Empathy and vulnerability in the digital age

The cyber-world collapses the distance between the spectator and the scene of brutality, but does this encourage voyeurism or solidarity?

Welcome to another year of transformation

We need your help to expand our coverage of deep-rooted personal and political change.

Wrestling with my white fragility

This moment in American history calls me to enter spaces where my people’s shame can arrive with me, charging in on white horses.

If you want change, learn when to argue and when to stop

Getting stuck in the wrong fights can eat up energy—so learn to use it wisely.

Stephen Fry and the importance of self-pity

Is it ok for victims of childhood abuse to pity themselves?

We need both compassion and confrontation to defeat Donald Trump

Having empathy doesn’t mean backing away from confrontation. It’s possible to extend love to opponents while throwing yourself into the gears of hate.

Oradour-sur-Glane: “a place of endless mourning”

Europe’s collective amnesia about its human atrocities and refugee flows is becoming more pronounced. Here's why it’s vital to remember them.

Notes from Kabul

'Not following the rules is how they have survived': a powerful meditation on life in the Afghan capital.

10 top ways to survive your family Christmas

From imagining they're dead to distracting yourself with cute puppy pics, here's how to keep cool under family pressure this Christmas.

Cups of love and cups of courage: facing up to the everyday realities of violence

Structural solutions are vital, but real security starts inside each one of us.

Three research-based ways to cultivate kindness in your life

Are you lacking in kindness? Here are three strategies for bringing more into your life.

Present perfect

With neither past nor future in common, what do relationships that exist entirely in the present have to offer? (video: 5 minutes)

Why kindness is the key to a new economy

We learn kindness from our mothers - could we use it to replace the free market with a gift economy?

Will you commit class suicide with me?

Recognizing that privilege is unearned is essential to dismantling the white saviour complex.

Where are the missing mystics of the revolution?

Mysticism can undermine the social and political order in fundamental ways.

Welcome to the empathy wars

Stepping into other people’s shoes has been a catalytic force for social change throughout human history.

Can you train your brain to be more compassionate?

We found changes in regions associated with empathy, emotion regulation and reward processing.

Should compassion be an election issue?

Compassion isn’t the property of Labour or the Conservatives, but when both parties embrace it does it mean anything at all?

Can money be a force for good?

There is more money in the world than at any other point in human history, so why doesn’t it reach the places that need it most?

Strivers and skivers? We’re all in this together

Could society be rebuilt around understanding and compassion instead of shame? The effects would be revolutionary. 

How the Home Office keeps getting it wrong on LGBTQ asylum seekers

The Home Office says that asylum seeker Aderonke Apata can't be a lesbian as she has had children with a man. The new Solidarity with Aderonke Tumblr project tells a different story.

The political emotions of Martha Nussbaum

Why does love matter for democracy? A conversation with one of the world’s leading philosophers. 

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