The Empathy Meter

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As mentioned on Tuesday, College of the Redwoods Professor Nezzie Wade invited me to speak in two sociology classes this week, and Impropriety Society Hostess Jenn Aspittle joined me both days. The course is titled Social Problems, which I reframed as Social Opportunities. We discussed various issues and organizations supported at Manifest Positivity through advocacy journalism, focusing on how this approach contrasts with that of the corporate media, particularly in presenting sex-positivity. We also watched some of the Midori clips I’ve posted recently. I have since received the following from Nezzie:

My thanks to you and Jenn for visiting my classes this week, and for the class discussions inspired by your presentations illustrating the dynamics of advocacy journalism, especially Manifest Positivity, and the ways in which it differs from corporate media. Advocacy journalism, being grounded in the notion that media and networking tools can help us communicate and connect to bring forward or “manifest” the world in which we desire to live through positivity, truly can lead to significant social changes while at the same time keeping us grounded in love, kindness, empathy and action just in the process of life itself.

Nezzie’s timely thank you note was prompted by reading the latest column from Tribune Media Services syndicated columnist Bob Koehler, who has appeared previously at Manifest Positivity several times. His new piece, called “Recovering From Empathy,” observes that the corporate media covers war with “empathy meters set at zero.” Nezzie’s comment to me:

I think this is a perfect manifestation of the differences between advocacy journalism and the corporate media as we discussed in the past few days. It is good to know that the empathy meter at Manifest Positivity is NOT ONLY NOT SET AT ZERO but it is very much registering at a high level of detection and expression!

Aside from Bob’s media commentary, this column is about a topic so emotionally ugly I haven’t been able to look at it too closely myself. He wrote about a previously secret video from 2007 recently revealed at WikiLeaks showing disturbing Iraq war footage.

While I won’t watch or quote descriptions of the video, it turns out Josh Stieber has had a bit to say about this, both on his blog and on Democracy Now! Josh became my friend last fall when Manifest Positivity welcomed him and fellow Iraq war veteran Conor Curran to Eureka as they biked across the country with a message of peace and love called the Contagious Love Experiment. View their entire local presentation here via Access Humboldt.

Josh’s commentary on the war video is particularly noteworthy since he was part of the military company on the ground, though not included in the mission because he had already started voicing some of the concerns that eventually precipitated his exit from the military as a conscientious objector. Democracy Now! identified him being affiliated with Civilian-Soldier Alliance, a group I had not previously heard about but will feature more in the future. This is from their About page:

Founded in 2007, the Civilian Soldier Alliance is an organization of civilians working with veterans and active-duty service-members to build a GI resistance movement towards a just foreign policy. We work with and support service-members and veterans to withdraw military support from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting resistance within the military that empowers service members to have a voice and develop as leaders organizing for change. To help build this GI-led movement, we work with fellow civilians to build a reliable, committed and experienced support structure for military personnel.

We believe that organizing to withdraw military support from the war can not only win tangible victories, but can also be a transformative process whereby vets and civilians develop the skills and confidence necessary to organize for long-term change.

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About the Author:

Dave Berman offers Life Coaching, Laughter Coaching, Laughnosis and Hypnotherapy. He earned a B.S. in Communication from Cornell University and has extensive experience as a public speaker and workshop facilitator. His book, "Laughter For the Health of It," co-written with Kelley T. Woods, is available here. For speaking or writing requests, or for a free coaching/hypnotherapy consultation, write to Dave, connect with manifest_positivity on Skype, or use the Viber app to call his mobile number from anywhere in the world +1 707-845-3749. Connect with Dave on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to future blog posts via RSS or by e-mail.
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