Do you love torture?
February 8, 2013
Albany says, “Cut Back.” We say, “Fight Back!”
March 16, 2013
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Let’s teach empathy

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Last weeks' post was a harsh one. It is so hard to believe that any American would condone torture of any kind. Tom Engelhardt in his post "What if Iranians Waterboarded an American" turns the issue on its head. What if it were an American being tortured he asks. What if it were someone we knew? Would we still approve of torture or would we call it barbarian?

How do we teach our children to have empathy for strangers-- especially those considered enemies?

To become empathetic people we need the following skills:

1. To be self-aware and able to differentiate our own feelings from another's.

2.  To be able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes.

3. Control our own emotional responses.

This is harder than it sounds because we learn empathy from when we are very young.

  • Empathy grows from strong trusting loving relationships with others. Only when we are secure in ourselves can we reach out to someone in need.
  • Empathy grows from recognizing how much we all share - how we are all human. That is why enemies are often characterized as less than human.
  • Finally empathy grows by being able to put ourselves inside the other person's situation. Reading biographies and fiction about people who are differ struggling is an effective way to bond with and experience life for those who are different from us.

Here are some links to activities that help children develop empathy.

And many of the books and discussion questions found here will develop empathy. http://www.teachpeacenow.org/book.html
Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now
We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.

2 Comments

  1. tim wolcott says:

    I really like the thought that we need to be more self-aware in order to be less defensive and more open to the feelings and needs or others.

  2. Mary C. McNamara says:

    I am a forward thinker, and, if by placing responsibility into the hands of another who can handle the task through higher education then, what was lost by one, is now a magical piece of fruit, deserving of nurturing and growth. We are all one nation, who will absorb by entropy the need and desires of survival. Thank you for, by the awareness of,… what, one Nation under God can, and, will assist others for the rest of their lives. WORLD PEACE

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