David Peterson Public Leadership Program Lecture Series

The Rt. Hon. David Johnston on Empathy and Turning Action into Compassion

March 15, 2023 | 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Munk School

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'Munk Centre For International Studies - 1 Devonshire Place
On Wednesday, March 15 the Right Honourable David Johnston, 28th Governor General of Canada, discussed his book Empathy: Turning Compassion into Action with Peter Loewen, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.
About The Book
The 28th Governor General's most personal and timely book to date: a passionate and practical guide for turning empathy into action.
As the world stumbles through the most severe pandemic of the last century, threatened by teetering economies, torn by political division, separated by unequal access to resources, and wrestling with issues as diverse as racism, gender, cybercrime, and climate change, the nations that best adapt and prosper are those in which empathy is fully alive and widely active. Written for a post-pandemic world, Empathy is a book about learning to be empathetic and then turning that empathy into action. Based on the personal experiences of author David Johnston, the book explores how awakening to the transformative power of listening and caring permanently changes individuals, families, communities, and nations.
A how-to manual for a world craving kindness, Empathy offers proof of the inherent goodness of people, and shows how exercising the instinct for kindness creates societies that are both smart and caring. Through poignant stories and crisp observations, David contends that, "Everyone has power over some things that other people don’t. When they learn ways to turn that power into action, they change the future dramatically.”
With clear and practical focus, Empathy looks at a host of issues that demand our attention, from education and immigration, to healthcare, the law, policing, business ethics, and criminal justice. In each of these areas, Johnston highlights the deeper understandings that have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis, with sharp emphasis on the positive and negative lessons now in crisp focus. Convinced that empathy is the fastest route to peace and progress in all their forms, David ends each short chapter with a set of practical steps the reader can take to make the world better, one deliberate action at a time.
About Our Speaker
David Johnston is Canada's 28th Governor General and Chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation. A graduate of Harvard, Cambridge, and Queen's universities, he was president of the University of Waterloo, principal of McGill University and dean of Law at Western University. He has authored or co-authored more than thirty books and holds honorary doctorates from thirty-six universities. His most recent book, TRUST, was a national bestseller. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was born in Sudbury, Ontario, raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and now lives with his wife, Sharon Johnston, near Ottawa.
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headshot of David Johnston
The Rt. Hon. David Johnston

28th Governor General of Canada; Chair, Rideau Hall Foundation; author

Headshot of Peter Loewen
Peter Loewen

Director, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy