book recommendation

Journal Publication on Empathy in International Security

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The latest issue of The Journal of Culture, Language and International Security includes an article by me on Cultivating Empathy and Internal Awareness for International Security Actors. As Robert Jervis said, “The ability to see the world and oneself as others do is never easy and failures of empathy explain a number of foreign policy disasters.”

Check out the issue here (PDF) and learn more about the Journal and Institute for the Study of Culture and Language here.

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The things I read that transformed my year

Photo Credit: The Guardian

I haven’t found much time to write, but I’ve luckily still found time to read. There were many things I read this year that transformed the way I think about the world and the way I wish to act in it. Here are some of my favorites:

Books: 

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander

Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla by David Kilcullen

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

The Fundamentals of Design for Social Innovation by students of MFA Design for Social Innovation

Essays and Articles: 

Nature’s Metropolis – Jacobin

The Questions We Share – New York Times

Stop Trying to Change the World – Unreasonable.is

The Case Against Sharing – Medium

Is For-Profit the Future of Non-Profit? – The Atlantic

We Aren’t the World – Pacific Standard

Why Students Need More than Grit – MSNBC

Zosia Mamet on Why She Won’t Lean In, Thanks – Glamour

12 Things White People Can Do Now Because of Ferguson – Quartz

What’s Wrong with Sentimentality – The Atlantic

The Power of Exponential Community – Medium

In the Name of Love – Jacobin

The Community is the Project

“In societies under stress, where basic systems have broken down and the very social compact that binds people together is under strain, the project we need to undertake is not the bridge—or the road, or the banking system, or the sanitation system, or whatever. The project is the community. The specifics of projects that people undertake in the chaotic coastal slums we’ve been discussing are actually less important than the community cohesion, sense of solidarity, and common purpose that those projects generate. These are not side effects of a successful project—they are the project.”

– David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla 

The Empathy Exams

I recently read an incredible book–a series of non-fiction essays–called The Empathy Exams. Here’s an excerpt from the title essayMore thoughts on this book and empathy coming soon. 

“Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia—em (“into”) and pathos (“feeling”)—a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border-crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?

Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say “going through the motions”this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.

This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.”