How to fight meanness? Try a bit of kind

There’s a kindness movement sweeping the globe and experts agree that adults must take the lead

 

And you can watch video clips of every time U.S. President Barack Obama cites empathy if you go on the website of the Centre for Building a Culture of Empathy, a California advocacy group that designs lesson plans for teachers and runs on-line “empathy circles” where people practice “empathic listening.” (This involves listening to what someone says, then repeating back what you think they meant to make sure you truly understood.)

 

“For a long time my family thought it was all too weird,” says founder Edwin Rutsch, a computer programmer, “but when I finally convinced them to try it, it led to a breakthrough between family members and a lot of hugs.”

 

The group’s empathy cookies were less of a hit, however, when Rutsch offered one to an angry knife-wielding activist at the troubled Occupy Berkeley camp a couple of years ago.

“He did stop for a moment, but he attacked the guy anyway,” recalls Rutsch. “But if I hadn’t given him pause with the empathy cookie, who knows? Maybe he would have killed the guy.”

 

By: Louise Brown