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Rita Marie Johnson on Empathy
http://bit.ly/fOqQUJ

An interview with Rita Marie Johnson, founder of the Rasur Foundation and BePeace, talking about the nature and importance of empathy. Videotaped 2010-05-26 in Concord, California. For more, visit the Rasur Foundation and Academy for Peace Costa Rica

 

Rita Marie Johnson on Empathy - Empathy Documentary Project from Edwin Rutsch on Vimeo.

 

Initial Interview Outline

  • Introduction

    • founding director of the Rasur Foundation

    • teach a practice called BePeace in Costa Rica

    • quest to embody peace in a consistent way

    • returning to  the United States to be of service to work on peace

  • How does empathy inform your work?

    • empathy is at the heart of BePeace

    • Coherence - to feel peace we need inner order

    • how to feel peace and then how to speak peace

    • need to put ourselves in the shoes of others

    • we teach how to guess the feelings and needs of the others

    • from he empathic connection compassion evolves

  • How did your empathy evolve over the arch of your life?

    • the value in our family was responsibility - it was not about connection

    • my US culture was about efficient, create the most is a short time

    • I heard the Costa Rica had no army

    • I went to learn from them and contribute

    • the primary values there is about connection

    • people talk to each other

    • different than the US

    • worked at United Nations - models of conflict resolution

    • University of Peace

    • Introduced to Nonviolent Communications and Marshall Rosenberg

    • empathy was at the heart of the model

    • the universal needs

    • are in me and all human beings

    • found an empathic language

  • Was that the first time you used the word empathy?

    • I knew of the word but learned how to do it.

    • At the age of 10 I wanted to work for peace.

    • it was the 4th of July

    • It was evening and I took a walk

    • I saw the sunset and I was filled with peace and my heart opened

    • my inner voice said 'you will work for peace'

    • I gave my sparklers away to my brother

    • the beauty of the peace

    • my country stands for freedom

    • and my country can also stand for peace

    • I want to bring back the know-how of peace

    • freedom needs peace to be just

  • America could be a place of empathy?

    • empathy is under the surface that needs to be expressed

    • BePeace hubs to promote and practice empathy in the schools

    • when we are able to practice empathy

    • will reduce bullying, suicides, etc

    • every will feel they belong to one another

    • delicious feeling of

  • A sense of inclusion?

    • schools are so big, makes it difficult to connect

    • I grew up in a one room school house

    • we were well connected

  • How can we build a culture of empathy?

    • In Costa Rica we initiated a ministry of peace

    • Create a alliance of peace organizations

    • everyone call learn the practice of empathy and peace

    • we have a national working model of peace

    • we need peace infrastructure

  • How will your work continue here in America?

    • teach empathy courses in collages  for teachers

    • pass it on to other students

    • train leaders

    • one idea is to teach presidents and their families

      • idea form Dali Lama

  • Obama has talked about empathy, what is your impression?

    • warms my heart

    • he speaks to the empathy deficit

    • we know what to do, we have the know how

    • coherence - HeartMath - and ordered path between hearth and head

    •  we need to feel empathy in our hearts

    • as we embody peace we affect others

    • we project an energy field of peace

    • sending out a tsunami of peace

    • come form empathy and a desire to connect

    • we can touch people who feel fear

    • without language

  • Talking about presence?

    • when we are in coherence we are feeling presence

    • we not not always in peace of presence

    • we can come back faster and faster

    • we have the how to

  • Any other stories of connection and empathy?

    • my first empathy was with Sura Hart

    • she came to teach empathy and Nonviolent Communication

    • I shared a personal difficulty with her, she heard me in a connecting way

    • I got clear and made a big change in my life

    • she helped me to see how my strategy of wanting to contribute wasn't working

  • Any other milestones in learning about empathy?

    • a trainer wanted a certain strategy

    • got attached to the strategy - the mediation was difficult

    • the trainer realized something

    • we have to stay connected

    • that's what empathy is all about, it's about staying connected

    • out of the connection, a strategy will emerge

    • the outcome needs to be connection

  • Any more stories?

    • one student was unsettled

    • I observed this

    • we use bio feedback - we coach them into peace

    • at the end of the day I asked if he had conflict

    • yes, he had pulled a girl by her hair

    • I gave empathy, he had failed many examines

    • he felt he would never amount to anything

    • feelings of needing  belonging and connection, loneliness

    • a tear came down his cheek,

    • I asked, what will you do the next time you have a challenge?

    • it was an empathetic light bulb for him

    • these little experiences go deep and change us

  • Sounds like you would like to replicate that experience with all children?

    • Story of Rasur, in dream for replicating peace teachers

  • A metaphor of empathy?

    • empathy is like traveling down a beautiful path to a friends house

    • I arrive at my finds house and we go into a hot tub

    • we are both individual

    • it's the path and destination

    • it's the warm feeling

  • What is a metaphor of the opposite?

    • it's a road but there are soldiers on the path

    • they are shooting at each other

  • Dialogue between the the two paths?

    • out of hut tub talking to the soldiers

    • give them empathy, what are their needs?

    • what does it feel like

    • help them get connected with their compassion

    • get to a place of mediation

    • meet on the road

    • transform the road so everyone can share

    • to build a culture of empathy

  • What questions do you want to still explore about empathy?

    • a reach study

    • putting a name on an angry face

    • measuring the amygdala

    • placing a name to an angry face versus naming an emotion

    • test for the needs - what happens to the amygdala when we guess the needs

  • Conclusion?

    • people want to make peace

    • with the genius of NVC and Heartmath

    • we know how to achieve a feeling of peace

    • I'm thrilled to have the how to

    • We have the way to do it

    • it's not an unattainable air fairy concept

    • any human being can do it

    • it grounded in who we are as humans, science and experience

    • we can achieve peace on earth