On the eve of winter, Integral New York examined empathy and “the miracle of we.” Gilles Herrada led twenty-four Ken Wilber Meet Up participants in exploring questions such as: How important is empathy to Integral theory? How does empathy look through the lens of the four quadrants? And how do we each experience and act (or not act) on empathy in our daily lives?
As New Yorkers, we began by acknowledging our ambivalent responses to homeless people and street beggars. Here the distinction between feeling empathy and acting on it emerged. We agreed that social activism needs to be empathically informed, but we remained uncertain what each of us—as individuals—could do when regularly confronted with fellow humans in distress on the street. The simple doling out of dollars to street beggars might temporarily assuage a conscience, but in the long run did that represent a truly intelligent and empathic response? Discernment, we agreed, was crucial to the success of empathic action.
by Robin Reinach