Booklet 5 EMPATHY and COMPASSION - World Animal 5 - Empathy...Booklet 5 EMPATHY and COMPASSION ... A brief explanation of the difference between empathy and other states is given below

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    Conflict Resolutionin Schools

    Guide for Educators in South Africa

    Booklet 5

    EMPATHYand

    COMPASSIONTopics in this booklet: Compassion and empathy in Conflict

    Resolution

    Two class exercises

  • Conflict Resolution in Schools

    Guide for Educatorsin South Africa

    Booklet 5 - Empathy and Compassion

    Contents

    Page

    Background ......................................................................................................................................................................... 1

    Contrasting Empathy With Other States ............................................................................................................ 1

    Humane Education and the Building of Empathy With Compassion .................................................... 2

    Compassion and Empathy in Conflict Resolution ....................................................................................... 2

    The Literature on Empathy .................................................................................................................................... 3

    References ........................................................................................................................................................................... 3

    Further Resources ........................................................................................................................................................... 3

    Caring Class ........................................................................................................................................................................ 4

    Caring Classmates .......................................................................................................................................................... 4

    Caring Class Project ....................................................................................................................................................... 5

    Compassion Parable ............................................................................................................................................... 6 & 7

    Further Resources ............................................................................................................................ Inside Back Cover

    Notes

    Joseph. You are a wonderful boy, and Im so glad to have you with me. I have an idea for you. Instead of feeling bad about the buck and the elephant why dont you do something to help the animals? That way you can make a difference, instead of just feeling bad that doesnt help anybody, espe-cially not yourself.

    So the very next day, they went to Vuyo to ask him what they could do to help. He took them along to a voluntary organisation called the Friends of the Elephant who were working to stop poaching and to help orphaned elephants. They had a lovely sanctuary by the park, where they cared for orphan elephants and released them back into the park

    when they were old enough to care for themselves. Joseph and his Mum were very happy with their work, and hatched all sorts of plans to help them when back home.

    And they carried out their plans too! And from time-to-time they went back to visit the Friends of the Elephant, taking along some money they had raised and checking up on the new orphaned elephants in their care. The plight of the animals had found its way into their hearts and became a real passion for them. Joseph loved the animals and was determined that he would become a ranger, like Vuyo, when he was older. So his caring had given his life a whole new meaning.

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  • National Park, staying in a chalet situated right inside the park.

    Each day they went out to see new and wonderful things. Joseph was in heaven, being in the midst of nature and seeing so many fantastic animals. He made friends with their guide, Vuyo, who showed him all about the animals and birds in the park. He began to learn how to tell which animals had been that way by their footprints and their droppings. He saw different birds, and began to learn their names. Gradually, he stopped dreaming about the buck he had shot. And the pain in his heart each morning, when he missed his dad the most, began to ease a little.

    Then, one day he witnessed something awful. They drove through the park, and saw a herd of elephants rampag-ing. The bulls were trumpeting as they charged past. Vuyo looked worried and said: I think something may have hap-pened to upset them. Lets go and see what it was.

    So, they went in the direction from which the elephants had fled. The bush was thick, and so they travelled around to a clump of trees behind a clearing. And there in the clearing they witnessed a young elephant calf that had been killed by poachers. Above her, the calf s mother was grieving and try-ing to push her to stand up again. They stayed out of view and watched the grieving mother for some time before leaving her to her grief.

    When they arrived back at the lodge, Vuyo explained that elephants often tried to make their dead calves stand up again, and even came back days later to feel their bones, and roll them around with their trunks. They all felt so sorry for the elephant.

    Later that night, when they sat on the sofa, Joseph spoke to his Mum about the elephant: Mom, I have been think-ing about that elephant. She just didnt want to believe that her baby had died, did she? She was just as sad as we were when Dad died? She tried to make her stand up again, although she must have known her baby was really dead?

    Josephs Mum replied: Yes, it seemed as though she just didnt want to believe it, didnt it? I do think she was feeling the same things that we felt when your dear Dad died.

    Then Joseph suddenly felt a warmth and he knew. He knew that the animals felt the same sort of pain and grief as he did. He felt the life around him in the park, with all of its wonders, and all of its sadness. And he knew it was all one. And he knew that his wonderful Mom had been crying for him, as well as for his Dad. And he had to tell her: Mom, Im so sorry I was only thinking about my own sadness. And you were sad too both for Dad and for me. And I was so cruel. And when I shot the buck, I was not thinking about the buck, or its family. I do feel so bad.

    Josephs Mum hugged him tight and told him: I love you

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    Empathy and CompassionBackground

    Empathy is defined as the ability to recognise, perceive and feel the emotion of another. It is the ability to put oneself in anothers shoes, a sort of emotional resonance.

    As empathy involves understanding the emotions of others, it can relate to physical emotions or to the beliefs, desires and thoughts that underlie them.

    The basic capacity to recognise emotions is innate (built into human wiring), but it appears to be stronger in some people than in others (for example, females tend to have higher levels of empathy than males). It is thought to relate to peoples capacity for imitation and relates signals such as bodily movements and facial expressions to feelings. People are also able to make the connection between tone of voice and other vocal expressions and emotions. It is an immediate gut reaction, so by looking at facial expressions, bodily movements and listening to tone of voice, we are able to get a sense of how others feel.

    Empathy can be sensed either internally or externally. The person feeling empathy may themselves feel a sense of the emotional atmosphere affecting another (so the emotion is shared) or they may not experience this feel-ing themselves, but recognise it and locate it in the other person.

    More developed empathy requires more than recognising the emotional state of another. The ability to deliberately imagine yourself being another person, or being in their situation, is a more sophisticated process, which needs practice, training, investigation and imagination.

    The background of a person may distort their feelings about the emotions of others (see Background on Perception in Booklet 3). Empathy is a skill that is gradually developed throughout life and which improves with the level and depth of contact we have with the person with whom we are empathising. The more we learn about the other person, the more we are able to reach outside our own emotional state and empathise with theirs. We must stay open to revising any knowledge we gain of the emotions of another in the light of further information.

    Compassion is a sense of shared suffering and is often combined with a deep desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering. Thus compassion is essentially empathy, but with a more active motivation to assist.

    Compassion is the keen awareness of theinterdependence of all things.

    Thomas Merton.

    Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningfulembodiment of emotional maturity. It is throughcompassion that a person achieves the highest peakand deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfilment.

    Arthur Jersild

    Contrasting EmpathyWith Other States

    A brief explanation of the difference between empathy and other states is given below.

    Empathy:

    I feel your sadness.

    Sympathy:

    Im sorry for your sadness, I wish to help.

    Emotional Contagion:

    I feel sad. (Catching the emotions of another)

    Apathy:

    I dont care how you feel.

    Telepathy:

    I can read your sadness without you expressing it to me in any normal way.

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  • Humane Education and the Building of Empathy and Compassion

    Moral imagination is the capacity to empathise with others, i.e., not just to feel for oneself, but to feel with and for others. This is something that

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