Expanding The Empathy Circle Through Art: Songwriter Ellis Paul Teaches Children

 I’m diverting a bit away from my Music Heals columns, which focus on music as a therapeutic tool, and instead looking at how music can encourage empathy.

Now more than ever – with so much talk about building walls that not only (in theory) keep others out, but also ensnare those within – empathy is crucial.

Empathy allows us to overcome our fear of the “other”; to expand the circles — whether they are of our own makings or created by political forces — to be more inclusive in nature.

Art generally, and music, specifically, has long been a force for this type of empathic expansion.  When we are emotionally moved by a piece of music, the arbitrary “otherness” — whether based on differences of skin color or religious/sexual orientation — begins to fall away, and understanding of commonality ensues. In short: More Art Equals Less War.

George Howard