Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mark LeVine & the Axis of Empathy

On August 14, 2007, faculty from the University of Northern Colorado's Life of the Mind Program (an award-winning program offering a suite of engaging, interdisciplinary undergraduate courses) invited University of California-Irvine Middle East scholar and musician, Mark LeVine, to join us for a two-day retreat.

The discussions that ensued were fascinating and provocative and I've created a short video of relevant excerpts for my Empathy blog. Mark has coined the phrase "Axis of Empathy" to counter George Bush's well-known antipathic phrase, "Axis of Evil." I culled from our conversations with Mark four excerpts that define some of the dimensions of his Axis of Empathy: (1) culture jamming, (2) "militant empathy," (3) empathy and discomfort, and (4) empathy and hope.

Mark raises some key questions and issues. His ideas are politically charged and, of course, controversial, which is why I think it is important to post them on my blog. He indicts "the Right" and its strategy to create antipathy, a climate of fear, and isolation. Depending on your political orientation, you might find his arguments to be affirming or antagonistic (or both!). Regardless of your political orientation, I think it's likely you'll find truth in some of what he's saying. Comments are welcome!


Blue Star Hand said...

I have been following Mark Levine's works since i read his book "Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil", because i felt that so much of what he says has so much truth to it. So this was a really interesting video for me to watch. Granted, it's nothing all too new, as he has said about 70-80% of the same things in other media (interviews, articles, etc.).

But I think that the most important part he mentions is why people would give up on empathy, which is because we're told that it's futile, that it's not worth it. So it is probably best to "radicalise" the movement that is for peace, which by "radicalise" i mean to take the initiative, get into action.

Overall, i enjoyed this post very much!

Mike Kimball said...

Thanks for your comments, blue star hand - I completely agree with you and am intrigued by this notion of "radical empathy." It is time.

Anonymous said...

I just watched him in an encounter and he acted rudely and disruptively. I was very surprised to learn he was employed as a professor. Not very professional to my mind.

Mike Kimball said...

I'm sorry to hear about your experience, Anonymous. Was it a public presentation? Alas, even (especially?) professors can get ornery when their passions are aroused. But without context, it's hard for me to interpret your story.