Can we have a year of empathy?

What do you think comes next? After a torrid year of social and economic pain and inequalities, is it possible that we can see a great rebalancing, with a year of empathy?

I have always believed in the power of empathy – a willingness to connect with others – and its potential too, if we could only nurture the conditions for its encouragement.

I have suggested some actions to build empathy coming out of our work at Pilotlight.

Here are my five favourite authors and quotes on empathy:

1. “Without the capacity to put ourselves cognitively and emotionally in someone else’s shoes, to feel what they feel, to be interested in their fears and motives, longings, griefs, vanities, and other details of their existence, without this mixture of curiosity about and emotional identification with others, a combination that adds up to mutual understanding and sometimes even compassion, Homo sapiens would never have evolved at all.” Sarah Baffer Hrdy, Mothers and Others

2. “Society depends on a second invisible hand, one that reaches out to others.” Frans de Waal, The Age of Empathy

3. “Empathy moves as a form of contagion, like a game of emotional tag.” Marc D. Hauser, Moral Minds

4. “People’s capacities for cooperation are far greater and more complex than institutions allow them to be.” Richard Sennett, Together

5. “If every human life, the species as a whole, and all other life-forms are entwined with one another and with the geochemistry of the planet in a rich and complex choreography that sustains life itself, then we are all dependent on and responsible for the health of the whole organism.” Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilisation

Let’s build this conversation and focus on what matters – the foundations for connection and social co-operation.

2 thoughts on “Can we have a year of empathy?

  1. Hi Ed! My name’s Liv and I am a Masters student studying International Journalism at Cardiff University. I am currently writing a feature article on mutual aid and would love to hear your thoughts on its proliferation and importance during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you’d be interested in an interview, please don’t hesitate to contact me here on WordPress, or at

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