Empathy — The needed act of great courage

24 March 2016


"If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,

until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

            ~ Atticus Finch

               in To Kill a Mockingbird  (1962)

"Only curiosity about the fate of others, the ability to put ourselves in their shoes,

and the will to enter their world through the magic of imagination, creates this shock of recognition.

Without this empathy there can be no genuine dialogue, and we as individuals and nations

will remain isolated and alien, segregated and fragmented."

            ~ Azar Nafisi  (Iranian-American writer)

"If you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then

no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far."

            ~ Daniel Goleman  (American author)

We humans worldwide are crippled with Selective Empathy -- "taking sides" often derived from childhood training and human separation.
Prejudiced and tribal, we easily -- often mindlessly -- disregard the ideas, narratives, and humanity of "others" perceived as different from ourselves.

This irrational Reactive Devaluation is well-documented in Stanford University studies of Dr. Lee Ross -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_devaluation
In addition, Wohl and Branscombe documented that the closer we are to our own unhealed pain of victimihood, the less empathy we have for others' grief and our part in causing it -- http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/94/6/988/

This shadow-side of us humans globally is partially revealed in new 2016 Pew Research findings from Israel -- http://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/08/israels-religiously-divided-society/
Nearly half of the Jewish citizens of Israel would approve expelling the Arabs, one-fifth of the population.

Not at all unique to Israel, this jaw-dropping symptom of human disengagement darkens nearly every city and nation on Earth.
This must be a clarion call -- a cry out for urgent, citizen-driven contact and communication that familiarizes, equalizes, and dignifies everyone, no exceptions, no exclusions.

At the same time, increasing numbers of citizens are refusing to be enemies.
They insist on engaging. . . with empathy.

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Empathy in
Avner Gvaryahu, an Israeli IDF paratrooper, and Palestinian Mohammed Dajani, courageously experienced human journeys toward empathy for the "enemy" then painful rejection by their own people.
Aaron Davidman, an extraordinary Jewish theatrical artist has become able to express from one mouth empathy for both peoples equally and powerfully in his new off-Broadway sensation, Wrestling Jerusalem -- http://www.wrestlingjerusalem.com

their stories.
LEARN about the social science and human experience of empathy, and why reaching out to the "other" tribe makes our tribe so angry.


What Happens When You Empathize With The Enemy

National Public Radio (NPR)  -- March 22, 2016

30 min. audio



Let us remember that everyone has a story, a reason.
With urgency and courage, let us choose quantum empathy over selective self-importance?

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Public Empathy
in California USA
As early as 1997, a handful of local Jews, Muslims, and Christians gathered 420 Palestinians and Jews for a community-changing Dinner-Dialogue -- http://traubman.igc.org/hope.htm
In April, 1999, this same Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue Group fashioned a new Spring ceremony to deepen relationships.

With empathy for each one's faith tradition, the 46 Muslims, Christians, and Jews chose a date not to distract from Easter or Passover.
It was received in the community with a spirit of inclusiveness -- not exclusiveness -- while expanding awareness and people's identification with a larger story


A Celebration of Freedom for All the

Children of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah



Seventeen years later, this same small band of Dialogue participants continues doing what it can to initiate and encourage acts of empathy around Earth -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish-Palestinian_Living_Room_Dialogue_Group

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Returning to the
Empathy of Golden Age Spain
in New York USA
January 10, 2016, Sunday in New York brought back palpable emotions common to the songs of Jews, Christians and Muslims during the Golden Age of Spain.
Historic empathy lived in Spain among Jews, Muslims, and Christians for nearly 800 years of Al Andalus or La Convivencia (getting along together).

The sponsors said: "In a day and time when politicians in the US and globally exploit fear of our Muslim neighbors, it is helpful to revisit a time when our communities lived in collaboration and cooperation with one another.
The result was a 'golden age' of philosophy and culture where all three traditions influenced each other."

The diverse New Yorkers were inspired to be together, awakening the life of caring about each other and sharing philosophy, poetry and musical cadences -- living in community.
Tres Sueños: When Muslims, Jews and Christians Dream Together was sponsored by West Park Church and the dance company Noche Flamenca.

Hebrew, Ladino, Spanish, and Arabic songs from the 9th 15th centuries filled hearts, reminding us how we will return to our empathic best.

READ and SEE more:


Sharing A Dream Of Peace

New York Jewish Week -- 15 January 2015



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Empathy Resources

"A high degree of empathy in a relationship

is possibly the most potent factor in

discovering about change and learning itself."

            ~ Carl Rogers (1902-1987)

              American psychologist; innovator of Client-Centered Therapy


Rogers describes the empathic way of being with another person:

1. Enter the private perceptual world of the other
and becoming thoroughly at home in it.

2. Be sensitive, moment to moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever, that he/she is experiencing.

3. Temporarily live in his/her life, moving about in it delicately without making judgments, sensing meanings of which he/she is scarcely aware, but not trying to uncover feelings of which the person is totally unaware, since this would be too threatening.

4. Communicate your sensings of his/her world as you look with fresh and unfrightened eyes at elements of which the individual is fearful. It means frequently checking with him/ her as to the accuracy of your sensings, and being guided by the responses you receive.

5. Be a confident companion to the person in his/her inner world.


Carl Rogers on Empathy

14 min video - 1974



How to Host an Empathy Circle



LEARN MORE from day to day:

EMPATHY & COMPASSION:  The Empathy Movement Magazine

The latest news about empathy and compassion from around the world


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This message is on the Web at http://traubman.igc.org/messages/695.htm
Hundreds of other success stories are preserved at http://traubman.igc.org/messages.htm