The Empathy Foundation Network

Growing empathy for a peaceful world

I'm reading this book on Alice's recommendation. I understand it's a big part of the inspiration for the Empathy Foundation. I'm keen to discuss ideas and questions about the ideas in this book. It's blowing my mind!

If we look at what is considered mild corporal punishment of children, what are the implications for animals? When my dog chews a bucket, rendering it useable, and swat her on the nose, am i buying into old ideas of what is acceptable? I suspect that animals are much more intelligent and emotionally developed than we give them credit for, and i'm starting to question how we discipline them and try to shape their behavior as well.

Reading that an association for protection of animals had more members than one for the protection of children in the middle ages was shocking to me, of course it gave me a sense of the evolution of the relationships and what is considered 'acceptable' but it also lead me to wonder about violence toward animals. It is a source of deep pain for me and now that we have two dogs i find myself partaking in what could be considered violence toward the dogs as we discipline them, i don't even like yelling at them but it seems that tone of voice is what they respond to.

What are your thoughts, experiences, feelings on this?

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This is what i emailed everyone I know about the book after I finished reading it:

I feel compelled to shout from the rooftops, so here goes.

Anyone who has children, would like to have children, has children in their lives, works with children or has an interest in creating a peaceful world would benefit greatly from reading this book. That is a gigantic understatement.

I am not a parent but feel a great responsibility to future generations, reading Parenting for a Peaceful World by Robin Grille has illuminated the impact of childrearing on society, my generation, other generations, and my self.

(Look for my review in Google Books)

This book has affected me in so many ways. It explicitly demonstrates how childrearing is key to the world we create, the cultures we live in, the social ills and benefits that define our societies. These all stem from how we are treated as children.

The story i was most struck by was the research done about those who disagreed with Hitler and chose to harbour the Jews, compared to those who disagreed with Hitler and chose not to harbour the Jews, the only difference found was that those who did harbour the Jews were not subject to corporal punishment as children. (p130) This speaks volumes and is explored extensively by Sydney psychologist and educator by compiling research, theories and his own perspective based on his experience as a therapist and father.

This book has far reaching implications and although it was first published in 2005, (now on its fourth reprinting) it's influence is emerging internationally. The book was released Oct 2008 in UK and will be next month in USA. Plus a documentary is being made to launch the concept far and wide. I urge you not to wait to watch it on TV, get the book and read it as soon as you can. That's my feeling after reading it myself.

Evolutionary biologists and big picture thinkers have described the stage of human beings as 'adolescent', ambivalent about adulthood, and also as 'reptilian', moving toward a more nurturing mammalian phase. These metaphors give context to the long range view also offered in Parenting for a Peaceful World in relation to our own heritage.

The sections of the book that discuss the historical context of how children have been treated through the ages is essentially a holocaust. Infanticide, neglect, abuse and exploitation are the ugly side of our parenting history. It is disturbing to read this part of the book but as Robin says, it's important to face it to be able to appreciate how far we've come. Robin's research also offers pivotal insights for ways to further our progress in childrearing and thus socially beneficial advances. This takes avoiding repeating history's mistakes to a new level!

In this context, we have awareness of the potential we have to create a future so distinct from our past, one that nurtures children, helping them to develop full self-expression, empathy for others, and ultimately a world that works for everyone, in harmony with earth.

It's possible, its up to us, as the parents, supporters, teachers, carers... of the next generation.

I could go on, but I will end here. If you are interested in reading Parenting for a Peaceful World, I will be buying a box from the author and will sell them at cost. For those in my part of the world, if you'd like to be part of this please let me know. I ordered my copy from a bookstore which is another option.

Thank you for hearing me out and reading right to the end! Good on ya!

For the children of all species of all time,

Tathra Street


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