Workshop: The art of empathy
Right now, no matter where we are or where we look, we find ourselves in the midst of a big divide.
Born in different cultures, raised in different natures but still humans. The same humans that invented the very systems that keeps us divided, using rhetoric to install fear of other humans. Perhaps the way to reconnect is not in finding new or redefining existing systems but in re-humanizing. Re-learn old ways of human connection, re-experience diversity as a strength and re-build our world with inclusive societies.
Our big challenge in this is to overcome the apparent differences.
Differences that are quickly exposed by politicians for their own benefit and with the media following swift. To overcome the divide, to build the basics of an inclusive society and to find the strength of human diversity, we don’t need to learn new things. We need to see our own perceptions in order to set them aside and rekindle the lost human talent of empathy and compassion.
This is however not a proces of ratio.
It is a proces of listening, of confrontation, of seeing and feeling. Because empathy and compassion are forces inside ourselves by which we can truly put us in the shoes of the other. Feel as he does, see what he sees, experience what he experiences.
That’s where art comes in.
Art can provoke, surprise, raise questions, inspire and reach beyond the borders of every day. With our project, we want to develop art that can help the debates in modern society. Debates that often end up in hardened oppositions, in exclusiveness of certain groups and in the rise of populism.
Participants of our workshop will walk the streets of Amsterdam, photograph with their phones those things they feel unfamiliar with, where they close their eyes because it doesn’t fit their beliefs or perceptions and with these images we will try to find the words that describe these feelings.
Together we will break down -image by image and word by word- our fears, our perceptions and open up and re-connect. Bring empathy back into society as a necessary element to define together the way we want to build the inclusive society of tomorrow.
We will select the most striking images and words to create an exhibition for all other participants of the JCI World-congress. For them to see the process we went through, to connect to the shared feelings, to be able to feel their own perceptions as the opening to find their own talent of empathy and compassion again.
Rene van Hulst – Margaret Lansink