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   Empathy - eyes of the heart

Guided by a caring hand

Recently I had one of those experiences where, in retrospect, I wasn’t sure if what just happened was random events or if I was being led by a guiding hand. Ever get that feeling?

I was on the internet watching something on YouTube and one of their links caught my eye. An organization called RSAnimates has some fantastic videos of a cartoonist doing sped up cartooning that details the talk of the narrator. The cartoonist is fantastic and the talks are on topics that really interest me.

I clicked on one titled “The Empathic Civilization” and watched in awe and wonder for 11 minutes as Mr. Jeremy Rifkin detailed his view that ALL humans are “soft wired” for empathy.

Here’s what caught me, when he said, “New evidence suggests that we are not soft wired for aggression, violence, self interest, utilitarianism. We are actually soft wired for sociability, attachment, affection, companionship.”  This was music to my ears.  Perhaps there is hope after all.

“The first drive is the drive to actually belong. It’s an empathic drive.”

“Empathy is rooted in the acknowledgment of death and the celebration of life, and rooting for each other to flourish and be. It’s based on our frailties and our imperfections. The ability to show solidarity with other fellow man and fellow creatures.”

“Begin rethinking human nature, to bring out our empathic sociability, so that we can rethink the institutions of society, and prepare the groundwork for an Empathic Civilization.”   -- the video is available at the bottom of this page

Just what I've been looking for

I knew instantly that this man and his ideas were the vision for the possibility for human beings and the future of our planet that I had been looking for. I honestly don’t know if we as a species are going to make it or if we’ve mucked it all up too badly for any hope at all. But I do know deeply that if we readjust our values and our thinking toward empathy that we may have a chance.

The thinking that has a strangle hold on so much of the modern world is one of separation. Separation from each other, separation from ourselves, and separation from the world we live in.

My question is what does a life, a world view, based in empathy offer me? Offer you? Offer us?

Mr. Rifkin says that empathy yields its best results when mortality and suffering ensue. When things really suck – like NOW.

He says, “One only experiences empathy in an imperfect world, because it is where he or she can perfectly show solidarity not only with fellow creatures but also with other living beings in this planet with a single, fragile life to live… Empathic distress [can be] extended to other earthlings as extended family and to the biosphere as [the recognized one great] community…”

In a nutshell, Mr. Rifkin has devoted his life work to enlighten minds, in the hopes of letting people see that if they want to save their species and planet—economists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and all—they have to do it together.

My Mission has shifted

Well, I’m on for this!! My mission is to live embedded in a vision of an Empathic Civilization, where we are drawn together to do what is needed to create a world for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond.

It's funny how something can jump right out and grab you. My dream is that Jeremy Rifkin’s vision will grab you and you and you so that one by one the world comes closer together and we decide that making it together is more worthwhile than fighting over whatever in the hell it is that we’re fighting over.

I’m going to be living in a world of my own making for the rest of my days, so I might as well live in one that has grace, possibility, vision, compassion and empathy.

Know what I mean?


Enjoy the video “The Empathic Civilisation” (English spelling). It may require more than one viewing to fully get all he’s telling us.

For more about Jeremy Rifkin and more videos click here or on Jeremy Rifkin at the top nav bar.