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Jeremy Rifkin – The Empathic Civilization

In this video, Jeremy Rifkin cites research that found that humans are soft-wired with mirror neurons for sociability, attachment, affection and companionship rather than aggression, violence, and self-interest.  He describes empathy as the acknowledgement of death, the celebration of life and rooting for each other to flourish and be.  It is our inherent ability to show solidarity in the face of our vulnerability.  Empathy is the invisible hand that allows us to stretch our sensibility so that we can cohere in larger social units.  Rifkin demonstrates how, as a result of improving communications technology,  human empathy has evolved throughout history: from first associating based on tribal blood ties, to theological religious ties and to ideological national identities.  Rifkin wonders if it is possible to extend our empathy to the entire human race and our fellow creatures as a result of the exponential  technologies rapidly connecting every person and thing on the planet.  After all, Rifkin notes, science has proven that we are all descended from the same two parents living in Africa some 30,000 years ago.  Rifkin says we have to begin thinking of humans and our fellow creatures as an extended family.