UPDATE! Empathy Sermon at The School of Life (with Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone)

So sorry folks but in the blog post I just sent you about my recent Empathy Sermon at The School of Life many people couldn’t see the embedded video in their email. So here is the post again but this time including a link to the video. Big apologies. Hope you enjoy it…

It was a huge privilege and pleasure to give one of The School of Life’s Sunday Sermons at London’s historic Conway Hall recently. Last time I’d been there was to discuss the power of vulnerability with emotions researcher Brené Brown. This time I was there to talk about my new book Empathy, but that was just part of it. The 500-strong congregation stood at the beginning and end to sing two great empathy-related songs: Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. There were even little shoe-shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers

Here’s the video from the Sermon in full, where I talk about the six habits of highly empathic people and how to make them part of your everyday life.

Roman Krznaric’s new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution is out now.

BUY THE BOOK (UK)
FIND OUT MORE

Empathy Sermon at The School of Life (with Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone)

It was a huge privilege and pleasure to give one of The School of Life’s Sunday Sermons at London’s historic Conway Hall recently. Last time I’d been there was to discuss the power of vulnerability with emotions researcher Brené Brown. This time I was there to talk about my new book Empathy, but that was just part of it. The 500-strong congregation stood at the beginning and end to sing two great empathy-related songs: Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. There were even little shoe-shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers

Here’s the video from the Sermon in full, where I talk about the six habits of highly empathic people and how to make them part of your everyday life.

Roman Krznaric’s new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution is out now.

BUY THE BOOK (UK)
FIND OUT MORE

Is global empathy in decline?

Syrian woman and children, Aleppo, 2013Is global empathy in decline? Are our societies becoming less caring and more narcissistic? Have we become numb to media images of human suffering, such as photos of children traumatised by air strikes in Syria? In this article in the Guardian, I explore the recent decline of empathy in Australia, as well as other countries such as the UK and USA – and try to offer some innovative solutions for reversing the trend.

The article is based on my new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution.

You can find information about my upcoming book events here, including talks in London, Oxford, Amsterdam and Zagreb. Hope to see you at one of them – come and say hello!

Can empathy help resolve violent conflicts? Mr Blair thinks so

Empathy has a reputation as a fuzzy, feel-good emotion that many people associate in some vague way with everyday kindness. So it comes as something as a surprise when major political figures start talking about it as a key to resolving violent conflicts and peace building. This was exactly the point that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made in a recent article in the Guardian. Continue reading

How to be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian and a Jew

There is an intriguing thesis at the heart of Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. The Harvard psychologist argues – contrary to popular opinion – that humankind has become progressively less violent over the past few thousand years. We might feel surrounded by terrorism, civil wars and gun crime today, but murder and warfare is in fact on the decline. And the reason? One of Pinker’s key explanations is the rise of empathy as a force for social change: we are now more likely to look at the world through other people’s eyes, and consequently take action on their behalves. Continue reading

Empathy with the enemy

In the spring of 472 BC the people of Athens queued up to see the latest play written by Aeschylus, the founder of Greek tragedy. The Persians was an unusual production, and not only because it was based on an historical event rather than the usual legends of the gods. What must have really shocked the audience was that it was told through the eyes of their sworn enemy, the Persians, who only eight years earlier had fought the Athenians at the Battle of Salamis. Continue reading

Podcast: Empathy, mutual aid and the anarchist prince

 

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Peter Kropotkin was one of the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century, who managed to multi-task as a Russian prince, renowned geographer and revolutionary anarchist. In this interview with Phonic FM, a wonderful community radio station based in Exeter, I discuss how Kropotkin’s ideas about ‘mutual aid’ relate to my own work on empathy, and why Kropotkin is a prophet for the art of living in the twenty-first century. The interview lasts around 50 minutes.

What it feels like to drop an atomic bomb

Paul Tibbets, the man who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Earlier this week I went to an entertaining talk by the writer Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink and other bestsellers. Midway through he made a throwaway comment about the bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945. ‘Imagine how it felt to be the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima – how do we feel about that kind of moral responsibility?’ The implication of this rhetorical question was that the pilot must have been desperately wrestling with the ethical consequences and dilemmas of releasing the world’s first atomic weapon on the unsuspecting city. Continue reading

Should you empathise with your father's killer?

Jo Berry (right) standing next to Pat Magee, the man who killed her father.

One of the greatest challenges of leading an empathetic life is trying to step into the shoes of people who we consider to be ‘enemies’ or whose views and values are very different from our own. If you’re on the receiving end of a racist comment from someone at the pub or a torrent of unfair verbal abuse from your boss, the idea of trying to empathise with them would probably be the last thing on your mind. If you came face to face with the person who had recently burgled your house, could you overcome your anger to see the crime from their perspective, and understand the circumstances that may have driven them to it?

Empathising in such instances might seem like wishful thinking. But consider the case of Jo Berry. Continue reading