Beyond Human Rights: Building a World on Empathy – Iran Press Watch

What moves us to serve humanity, to achieve meaningful change, is genuine empathy; the capacity to feel the pain of others, to experience an intimate shared humanity, to accept discomfort and sacrifice in the path of a greater cause. In entering an authentic communion with others, we also discover a profound expression of our own dignity….

Building a world on empathy means that we must each assume personal responsibility; that we must enter into an intimate communion with those that suffer. It is not enough to assume that our leaders will solve the world’s problems on our behalf. The divisive, opportunist world of politics, is hardly an inspiration…. 

Without empathy, our deepest human potential will never be fully realized. We will consume more and more, and experience happiness less and less. Without sacrifice, we will remain incomplete, spiritually handicapped. …

It was astonishing to see how they were transformed by this catharsis, by simply having a public forum where they could tell their stories, where others would listen to their plight with empathy. …

When we surrender fear so that we can know the pain of longing, we enter into a wondrous journey of discovery, transported by the eternal dance between self and other. The ultimate source of power is the courage of empathy. ..

By Payam Akhavan

Beyond Human Rights

Payam Akhavan, from the 2014 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture, Beyond Human Rights: Building a World on Empathy

Listen to the Payam Akhavan’s full lecture: