In this episode, Dr. Judith Thompson shares some insights on the lens of social healing and its relation to peace building. She comments that “The social healing lens is really a paradigm; it’s a vision that arises basically from the inherent truth of interconnectivity, which is to say it’s a lens of compassion. And I see it as an evolutionary step for us. The older paradigm, the paradigm of separation, which has brought with it a retributive lens, let us say, within the field that I work in, sees and depends upon on some level people being able to separate themselves from the other and not have a sense of relatedness to the experience of the other."
She continues: "Compassion arises in the process of social healing because we are able to let go of a sense of rigid self, and often that’s a righteous self that sits in judgment of the other. But when at the point that we are able to say ah I recognize that I too have been a victim, or I too have been a perpetrator, or I too have stood by while others have been harmed. That allows us to recognize that we’re all in this together, and that there’s a communal enterprise. And that’s really what social healing is about."
Dr. Thompson has been engaged in projects promoting social healing for over twenty years, working primarily with survivors of war and political violence. As part of her doctoral research for the Union Institute, she convened a three-day dialogue hosted by the Ikeda Center that brought together 25 people from all over the world to explore the question, "How does compassion arise in the process of social healing?" In 1984, Thompson co-founded Children of War, Inc., an award-winning international youth leadership organization that supported the vision and leadership of young activists from 22 war-torn countries. Dr. Thompson has also helped to develop social healing programs in Israel/Palestine and Cambodia and has worked closely with indigenous elders from North, Central, and South America who are seeking to support worldwide social and ecological healing through their traditional ceremonies. Dr. Thompson was recipient of the Bunting Peace Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and the International Peace Prize of the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation.
The audio from this interview is from a series of video reflections that were posted on the Ikeda Center YouTube page in August of 2011.