Workshop Part 3

WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 3: Recognition and Empathy

In Video Part 3 Bassam and Itamar tell us stories from their childhood which highlight the recognition and empathy they received from their secure attachment with their parents. Bassam says “It all begins at home…”. We watch Bassam and Itamar take empathy and recognition with them into adulthood as they step out of denial of their individual collective narratives and out of violence.

Learning Objectives:

This Video Part 3 and workshop is an underlying component of the Moving-Beyond-Violence construct for an Ethical Mindset. We suggest time is spent preparing and researching the issues we raise; please share your own experience and ideas on the discussion forum.

An Ethical Mindset and ethical behaviours of fundamental hospitality and care are necessary for ethical coexistence.

  • Bassam and Itamar’s childhood stories recall Bowlby’s secure attachment. Research associates secure attachment patterns (in early or later life) with recognising the other, their pain and a desire to comfort it, internalisation of the secure attachment relationship into personality structures that are associated with peace building. What can we learn from Bassam’s and Itamar’s childhood experience that can be taken into social, educational and political settings in the hope of promoting an Ethical Mindset?
  • Experiencing and acquiring recognition and empathy, and congruent behaviours of hospitality and care, are complex processes. This workshop aims to explore different pathways to recognition and empathy including relational, cultural, creative arts, socio-economic, political and existential and inclusion–exclusion dimensions. For instance, recognition and empathy from a teacher or friend, a film or book, a secular, religious or political ideology, observation of recognition and care between others; identification with excluded others; a ‘spiritual’ connection with nature or the planet etc.


  • The relevance of the theories of Bowlby, Winnicott, Benjamin and Maslow for facilitating a secure base in the family, society and work place as an important component of peace building.
  • The impact of child-rearing practices, socio-economic environment, health, education, inclusion-exclusion, and collective narratives on peace building.

Issues to Explore:

What influenced your interest in this programme, and in Ethical Mindsets and behaviours, and peace building?

  • We invite participants to explore their own path to recognition and empathy, and if it exists, whether they feel this has been a component in their relations with different others. 
  • Might an experience of exclusion and rejection, victimhood or perpetration lead to identification with excluded and oppressed, victim or perpetrator others? How would that happen? Would that identification necessarily include empathy and recognition? 
  • The Ethical Mindset includes congruent ethical behaviours of fundamental hospitality for shared humanity, and care for the other. They may be the dictate of a religious or political social system. Do empathy and recognition have to be present in order for the behaviour of care to be ethical? Might survival be an issue? 
  • What role might empathy and recognition play in stepping out of denial of an unethical collective narrative? What other factors might be relevant?

Facilitating the Workshop:

  1. Think of ways to create a safe base in the group of a secure attachment with empathy, recognition and trust.  Co-creating a safe base

    Setting ground-rules: You might use games for equal validation, e.g. ‘What does your name mean?’

  2. Develop your intercultural knowledge-base for groups with members from a range of cultural, political or ethnic backgrounds.

    Any ‘difference’ in the room creates opportunities for working with recognition and empathy; use narrative for people to tell their stories, and invite others to share how the stories change initial impressions.

  3. Using your own listening, feeling and feedback skills think of ways to enable people to move into dialogue with each other.

    ALWAYS serve vegan biscuits and explain that they are ‘anti-discriminatory biscuits’! This draws difference and communality together and also provides some necessary ‘light relief’.

  4. You might want to try these exercises with the group if it feels safe enough:
  • Invite members to pair up and to try ‘being in the moment’ as a Buddhist might describe recognition, by silent gazing between them, ‘being with the true other as egos dispel’. 
  • Bring up an image of two unidentifiable bodies of children from conflicting groups killed together in an accident: the parents are faced with not knowing which is their child, so they must mourn and love both.
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