Empathy: Bridging The Divide Of Polarizing Conversations with Edwin Rutsch

Product Description
$ 1.99

MP3 Download

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.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Edwin Rutsch is a computer expert, a filmmaker, and the founding director of The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. This center serves as one of the leading organizations of the global empathy movement and focuses on bridging social and political divides by designing a free online empathy training course and holding face to face and virtual empathy cafés.

To learn more about the work of Edwin Rutsch go to http://cultureofempathy.com.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is the history of the concept of empathy
  • What is the difference between empathy and sympathy
  • What are some physical traits we can cultivate to establish empathy with another
  • What is an example of connecting with a neighbor of a different political persuasion
  • How developing empathy is a gateway practice like developing a muscle
  • What is the process used in the Empathy Cafes both on-line and in person
  • How Rutsch set up an Empathy Tent at a Berkeley political rally
  • Why it is important to repeat back to the person what they have said without having to agree with them
  • How Rutsch used the process at Christmas dinner with his family
  • How the political left and right are functioning like a dysfunctional couple
  • How Rutsch is taking the Empathy process to political conventions
  • How a local Republican Committee Chairman challenged Justine Toms to be more open minded
  • How our personal judgments, anxieties, and self-righteousness block deep listening
  • How Rutsch’s work is going beyond simply making the playing field more equal. He’s going for the bigger tent of creating opportunities for greater collaboration and creativity

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 2/18/2019     Program Number: 3670

Music Playlist

From Album: No Words
Artist: Jim Brickman
1994 BMG B000667K5Q 

Opening Essay: Track 01 Rocket to the Moon
Music Break 1: Track 03 Open Doors
Music Break 2: Track 05 Wanderlust
Music Break 3: Track 07 Borders