In: Exploring Empathy
Author: Charles King

Empathy is the antithesis of selfishness and therein lies our species’ only hope of survival. For too long our selfishly anthropocentric approach – that which considers human beings as the most significant entity of the universe – has powerfully held sway. This has seen our world disintegrate on countless levels; climatic change being the main case in point. As a species, not only have we turned anyone not in our group(s) into the other, we have even othered nature. I explore how globalised cultures and economies, because contemporary market economies profit from the control and commodification of all that lives, threaten our planet’s sustainability. My chapter argues that, thankfully, a historic wave of empathy is challenging our highly individualistic, self-obsessed cultures, in which most of us have become far too absorbed in our own lives to give much thought to anyone else. That is why we have to take difference and diversity – the embracing of the other on every level – as our main point of reference. We must suspend belief that political participation, moral empathy, and social cohesion can only be produced on the basis of the notion of recognition of sameness. Empathy, maintains Roman Krznaric, is an ideal that has the power both to transform our own lives and to bring about fundamental social change; it can create a radical revolution. Furthermore, within my sphere of influence as a journalism lecturer, I am agitating for the incorporation of empathy into journalism curricula so that future young African journalists (tomorrow’s information gatekeepers) will be taught ‘empathy skills’; because the communications industry, especially print media, digital journalism, television, and radio, are critical in this revolution.

In: Promises, Pedagogy and Pitfalls: Empathy’s Potential for Healing and Harm
In: Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions