CHAPTER 5 Heart-to-heart: enhancing empathy

THE PROMISE OF AN EMPATHIC FUTURE

The Human Library1 loans out people for you to read. It is a non-profit organisation that allows users to ‘borrow' a person instead of a book, and to be challenged on your belief systems through conversation with your loaned person. First developed in Copenhagen at the Roskilde Festival in 2000, Human Library events have taken place in over 70 countries around the world. Australia was the first country to establish a permanent library.

A mandatory requirement is that all borrowers be tolerant of diversity, given that difficult questions can be asked and authentic answers will be provided. The person on loan to you may be homeless or gay or Muslim or sexually abused or unemployed or many other variations on being ‘different'. Empathy for others is the basic principle behind the Human Library, as it must be for the future of human relationships on this planet.

Although it is a difficult concept to measure, there are strong indications ...

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