Finding Hope in a Crisis of Connection


Our vision here at Roots of Empathy is to change the world, child by child. It’s on our website and we talk about it all the time. We know it’s both ambitious, and frankly, a long-term goal, especially if we’re going child by child. But you know what? We firmly believe that the future lies with children, so we do the work. Sometimes that work means we forget to see the big picture, how we fit into a growing global recognition that things are not right and we urgently need to find ways to connect with each other.

David Brooks, the Opinion Columnist of the New York Times, has shared the big picture and it includes Roots of Empathy. He’s published a column called “Two Cheers for Feminism! What girls and women get right about empathy and connection.”  And he talks about Roots of Empathy.

His column focused on the new book “The Crisis of Connection” from the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity (PACH) for which Mary Gordon, our Founder/President was asked to write a chapter. The book, which came out this summer, examines the forces that have led to a crisis of connection and what the consequences are. The editors at PACH who commissioned the essays for the anthology asked Mary to write about Roots of Empathy as a solution to this crisis.

David writes, “the culture teaches girls not to talk and boys not to feel. Girls begin to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Boys say, ‘I don’t care.’  Then David goes on to write about our program as exactly that – a solution.

It was a great way to stand back and take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far and to remind ourselves that our program, in 12 countries, having reached almost one million children, is more than a program. It’s a movement. We help children understand how they feel and how others feel, to find their voice and to stand up for themselves and each other. Our Roots of Empathy children go out into the world of their school, their families, their communities and they connect. And from the research we’ve seen, the effects of our program linger and spread and spread and spread.

Sometimes you just need to stop and look up from what you’re doing and smile. And spread the hope. In our case, the hope rests in a little baby in an adorable “teacher” t-shirt, sitting on a green blanket and charming children into a deeper understanding of themselves and others. That is hope. That, friends, is empathy.