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Progressive Values Stories: Loni Hancock on Empathy and Caring

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I am working on a documentary to answer the question, What are Progressive Values? So far, I have interviewed over 100 progressives and have placed over 350 video clips on YouTube with the various replies.  This is part of a continuing series of interviews of progressives telling their personal stories about their progressive values.  See  
 This interview is with Loni Hancock, California Assembly member representing the 14th Assembly District: Serving Berkeley, Richmond, Albany, San Pablo, El Cerrito, Kensington, Emeryville and Oakland. Loni says that empathy and caring are the most important progressive values to her. She tells a childhood story about empathy and her visit to the zoo.
Progressive Values Stories: Loni Hancock on Empathy and Caring


Loni: Well, I think progressive values are all about forming a society in which every human being and every  child can live a fully realized life, regardless of the circumstances of their parents.

You know, I grew up in a family that talked about those values a very great deal, and also, a family where empathy was talked about.  I think that empathy, the ability to understand how other people feel, particularly, the disrespected or physically hurt, or hungry, is the way we develop.

Edwin:  Can you think of any incidents, something that happened where you learned that lesson about empathy?

The only thing that comes to mind is crying the first time I went to the zoo.  My father explained to me that he thought they were really happy there, because they didn’t do anything but sleep and eat.  But I don’t think so, they looked to me like they were pacing.

Edwin: What happened?

 Oh, just sitting and crying and refusing to go into the house that had little cages, and my father, who was happy after being with his daughter, was now turning sour and trying to explain to me why he thought it was okay.  But it just didn’t feel okay. 

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[From her speech at a Berkeley antiwar rally]  If we care about the quality of life of the human beings who live in the congressional district, who live in our state, we must stop this war.  If we care about our souls, we must stop this war.  If we care about the constitution of the United States, to maintain a vital democracy so that the people can be heard and make the changes that they need, we must stop this war.  So, thank you all for being here, and together, we will stop this war.

Edwin Rutsch
What Are Progressive Values? Documentary Project
and Study Group
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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, (more...)

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