Prophetic Empathy & Radical Love
- Are you upset at the danger to our planet, the possibility of nuclear war, the rise of Neo-Nazis, and the dismantling of human rights and environmental protections by the Trump Administration?
- Are you concerned that the current forms of activism may not have much of an impact on changing things?
- Would you like to contribute to transforming our world?
- Do you want to develop the skills to engage with others in political conversation with radical empathy and understanding?
- And would you be willing to become active in one of the two following ways:
- Join the efforts of the Network of Spiritual Progressives to build a movement that seeks a fundamental transformation of our society sufficient to save the environment, democratize our economy, and replace a society based on selfishness and materialism with a society based on love, compassion, and generosity?
- Commit to share what you learn in our training with some other social change organization(s)?
Whether your focus is on creating conditions in which liberals and progressives could win in the 2018 and 2020 elections or on longer-term goals of societal and environmental transformation, if you want real change, this training is for you!
The training is conducted on Zoom, a video conferencing platform that allows us to see one another, and break into small groups. It is possible to participate via computer, phone, or other device.
In this seven-session training by the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Tikkun magazine led by Cat Zavis and assisted by Rev. Carolyn Wilkins, you will be in an environment in which your desire for a loving, caring, just, and sustainable world will be embraced and encouraged. You will be given the tools you need to bring that vision into the world through concrete proposals and programs that can create lasting systemic change.
In turn, you will be expected to become an activist both during and after the training to help build a spiritually progressive social change movement. You will be given the support you need to start a local chapter of the NSP or to share the ideas you have learned with existing social change organizations so we can more effective in our efforts to build a loving and just world.
You will learn about the psychological and spiritual suffering that people experience living in our society and how to help people both understand and overcome it, strategies to create meaningful and lasting systemic change, and skills in empathic listening and speaking that will help you reshape the liberal and progressive world so that it can be more effective in reaching across the divide to speak to those who didn’t vote in 2016 or to that section of the Trump voters who are not racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic. Sessions will include readings, role-plays, listening to role-plays of Rabbi Lerner and Cat Zavis, group practice, and large and small group discussion. This training will only work if you commit time outside these sessions to do the homework that includes outreach exercises, readings, and watching videos. We will provide buddy groups for folks in the training so you have ongoing support and engagement with others between the weekly calls.
Registration for the current training is now closed. To register interest and receive notice of upcoming trainings, please click here.
In this training, you will gain the following skills:
- How to listen to people who do not share a progressive worldview without criticism and blame
- How to express empathy and understanding for contrary points of view without necessarily agreeing with those views
- How to identify the needs (social, political, spiritual) of the person who expresses a position with which you don’t necessarily agree
- How to express the vision of a world based on a New Bottom Line
- Understanding of how the Right attracts people who are not racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and whose economic interests are with the Left – and how to win them back
- How to take these ideas into local social change organizations, religious or spiritual communities, seek endorsements for proposals from elected officials, and raise these issues with your friends.
Session 1: Spiritual Activism: Overview of Core Concepts
This first session provides an understanding of how we got here and a vision to move forward. This week we will share the concept of two worldviews and how we can build a diverse social change movement infused with a spiritual worldview. We will also practice listening to enhance our capacity to deepen our awareness about how we listen and how that impacts how we choose to speak and respond.
Session 2: Strategy to Transform Our Society and Attract People to a Mass Moral Movement for Love and Justice
The second session focuses on the psychological trauma created by our society on a personal and systemic level and what we can do about it. We will discuss the strategy needed to transform society and how we can attract people to our movement whose economic interests are best supported by liberal and progressive candidates but who vote for candidates who promote division and hatred.
We discuss the spiritual crisis facing our country and the role of spiritual leaders and activists, as well as the role that spiritual activism can play in transforming our world. We share why it is important to bring a moral voice to political discourse and how to do so effectively. In addition to the above, we practice skills in self-compassion and self-empathy to deepen self-awareness so you can better understand your own feelings and needs.
Session 3: Empathic Listening: Love the Stranger
In session three, we will gain a deeper understanding of what attracted voters to Trump, learn to deepen our empathic listening, and begin to explore solutions and strategies that can help us build the world we all seek.
We will read the words of Trump supporters themselves and use this as an opportunity to deepen our empathic listening skills to have a better understanding of the meaning articulated behind the statements, policies, positions, and approaches of others. Are we able to hear their deep pains and sorrows, understand their needs, and demonstrate that understanding as a path to connection?
When we are able to empathically connect with others, we begin to see our shared humanity, our common needs, our collective pain, and our deep yearnings. Our differences begin to breakdown and we find we are actually more alike than we thought. We see that we all yearn for loving connections, lives of meaning and purpose, mutual recognition, and a sense of belonging. From that place, we can begin to explore solutions and strategies that can help us build the world we all seek.
Session 4: Grieving the World that Is, Envisioning the World We Want, Understanding the Problem with Global Capitalism and Possible Solutions
In session four we talk about how capitalism impacts us in unrecognized ways and move into a powerful exercise in grieving the world that is and envisioning the world we want. We believe that grieving is the foundation out of which healing, repair, and transformation grow.
Through this exercise in grieving, participants see the value in allowing themselves to genuinely and deeply touch into their grief and sorrow about what is as a foundation and launching pad for envisioning the world they want and feeling inspired to take meaningful, long-term action to build that world.
We share a critique of global capitalism and discuss the urgency of imposing ethical and moral standards in our government, workplaces, professions, and schools. We help participants understand the value of promoting concrete policies and strategies that may seem “unrealistic” at this time, yet are part of what it means to engage in social and political activism from a spiritual perspective.
Session 5: Sharing Our Visions & Exploring Strategies
In week 5, we begin to look closely at two strategies that are concrete ways of bringing the New Bottom Line to life through proposals.
Session 6: Taking Action and Building the Movement
In sessions 6 & 7, we continue to practice how to bring NSP concepts and ideas to bear on specific issues and discuss how to bring this work into the world through various strategies, including creating local chapters, professional and workplace groups, and sharing these ideas with local community and social change organizations, and religious and spiritual communities.
Session 7: A Path to a World of Love and Justice – from here to there
The final session is about fully integrating the lessons into a vision going forward. We will invite you to share your experiences of taking this work into your community and building a local spiritually progressive social change movement. We will celebrate you and your vision going forward, and end our time together with a closing circle.