International Day of Empathic Action (IDEA)

IDEAOctober 2, 2009
International Day of Empathic Action (IDEA)
An IDEA whose time as come!

All Day! All Around the World!

In every state, in every country, on every continent, people will gather in empathic listening, connecting, and action so that we may see all beings integrate suffering to become free, fully alive, and resolve differences peacefully.

International Day for Empathic Action (IDEA) Events and Activities will take place all over the world aware of each other to create unity, community, and a world-wide understanding of empathy.

IDEAWhy Participate?

People who participate in the International Day of Empathic Action will help to build strong trusting relationships in their communities, promote nonviolence as a viable way of life, and establish compassionate ways of living together. IDEA events will directly expose participants to the power of empathy and the effective change it can have on local and global issues.

How to Participate?

You don’t need to be an expert to host an event. Anyone can create an event. If you'd like to host an event and you would enjoy more confidence in you empathic skills please check out our resources.

In mid-August when our Events pages will be up, you will be able to list your event so others can find you easily and you can connect with people all over the world hosting events at

"Our ability to offer empathy can allow us to stay vulnerable, defuse potential violence, help us hear the word "no" without taking it as a rejection, revive a lifeless conversation, and even hear the feelings and needs expressed through silence. " - Marshall B. Rosenberg

How IDEA Came To Be

In November 2008, Center for Nonviolent Communication Certified Trainers Jori Manske, Kathleen Macferran, Miki Kashtan, Sylvia Haskvitz, and myself, Catherine Cadden submitted a proposal to's request for Ideas for Change in America. We called our proposal Bridging the Empathy Gap- Yes We Can! We wanted to bring empathy to the attention of the Obama Administration. Empathy can bridge ideological divides and address everyone’s core needs. Tools exist to implement the practice of empathy in the government, country, and the world, right now. We wanted to see those tools in the hands of officials who create the policies that affect human lives.

The astounding support in less than two months resulted in Bridging the Empathy Gap - Yes We Can! on Ideas for Change in America receiving 8000 votes and ending in 15th place, 1300 short of being in the Top 10 Ideas to be presented to the Obama Administration.

Although our proposal did not make it to be presented, Jori, Kathleen, Sylvia, and myself continued to meet as a team. We imagined many more people who are aligned with the idea of empathy as a viable way of nonviolent action for effective change, than just those 8000 who voted for us. We began to discuss ideas of how to get empathic skills not only into the hands of officials, but actually all people. We came up with an idea for training and creating Empathy Corps that could be utilized in communities all over the world.

On one of our calls I presented an International Day of Empathic Action as a means to get Empathy Corps going in communities. As we continued to discuss IDEA, it became clear what we were spearheading was much bigger than simply implementing corps trainings. Really, IDEA has the potential to have available a skilled person in empathic listening/connecting in all regions of the world so that we may see all beings integrate suffering to become free, fully alive, and resolve conflict peacefully.

We discussed many dates to launch IDEA. The first was Sept. 11. We imagined the suffering, separation, and confusion of 9/11 could be transformed into empowered empathic action for reconciliation and healing. The date we settled on, October 2 arose to us an auspicious day as it is the birth date of Mahatma Gandhi, a man's whose message was a life of empathic action for effective change.

Oct. 2 was inaugurated in 2007 by the United Nations as an International Day for Nonviolence. We imagine Gandhi would delight in a world-wide day of Empathic Action as it could be seen as Direct Action in Love, a tenant of nonviolence he developed and utilized for immense social change in his country.

Adding to the sweetness of our choice of Oct. 2 is that it is only four days out from Oct.6, the birth date of Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication. Jori, Kathleen, Sylvia, and myself have found Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to be a practical, powerful way to build bridges of empathy. We have not only integrated NVC into our work, but truly in our way of life.

I hope that in some way IDEA honors Marshall Rosenberg, as he has offered an untrackable number of humans empathic connection, and his work of NVC has reached out in immeasurable ways to provide effective peaceable change throughout the world. I hope that IDEA honors the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s vision where all people are getting their needs met and resolving their conflicts peacefully.

The Bridging the Empathy Gap team is focused on organizing IDEA and remains open to the possibilities that the original proposal may open up. We are committed to seeing a world where everyone matters, all needs are met, and worldwide life-serving systems are created in economics, education, justice, healthcare, and peace-keeping.

Thank you for participating in IDEA.

Peace All Ways,

Catherine Cadden
CNVC Certified Trainer

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