For over a decade, Edwin Rutsch has hitchhiked, bicycled, traveled and worked his way around our precious planet. He interacted with a wide variety of cultures and peoples from all walks of life and learned to see and feel a common humanity shared by people around the world. During his explorations he came to see the importance of empathy in human connections. He says, “Empathy forms the foundation of community, compassion, love, and all the values that hold society together and make life worth living.” Rutsch takes us deep into the value and experience of empathy and how we might have enlightened conversations that take us beyond our social and political divides. He says, “To see that we can connect with everyone’s humanity and that everyone’s humanity is important is our starting point. That that can help move us towards fostering that connection in terms of trust.” One of the important processes used in the Empathy Circles is for the active listener to accurately repeat back to the speaker what they have said. This does not mean the listener agrees with the speaker. An important part of empathetic conversations is that the speaker truly feels they have been heard. This goes back and forth, and frequently new insights will arise as tensions recede. Rutsch is going for a deeper connection saying, “I’m for transformational connecting, a whole new dimension of opening up.”
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