Why Hundreds of Animal Rights Advocates Just Celebrated LA Pride: Empathy is an abundant and renewable resource

This is a heartening sign that social justice movements are beginning to appreciate that those we fight for share important similarities–and that we as advocates share the very same goals.

Empathy, I’ve discovered, is an abundant and renewable resource, one we no longer reserve for a select few people or causes.

In a talk based on his book The Empathic Civilization, economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin argues that over the course of history, humans have enlarged our sphere of empathy to include broader and broader swaths of society, beginning with blood relatives and widening far enough today to encompass those with whom we share no recent ancestors, religion, or nation. “When we talk about building an empathic civilization,” he says, “we’re talking about the ability of human beings to show solidarity, not only with each other but with our fellow creatures.”

This line of thought makes clear that social justice movements–those intended to spread empathy toward the oppressed and marginalized–are not distinct, isolated causes. Rather, they are all part of a single, age-old effort to transform “them” into “us.”

Nathan Runkle