Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#133 / Empathy #2

Jean Nidetch (pictured) was a co-founder of Weight Watchers. She died on April 29, 2015, and I read about her "yen for cookies" in an article in The Wall Street Journal. The New York Times ran a nice article, too. 

I didn't (and don't) know much about Weight Watchers, but I was struck by the following statement in The Wall Street Journal article:

Ms. Nidetch, a perpetually overweight housewife, discovered an important weight-loss tool that was missing from traditional diets: empathy.

The article went on to report that the "secret" to the effectiveness of the Weight Watchers program was the "weekly meetings where members could draw support from one another..."

That strikes me as the secret to almost any kind of effective action, including effective political action.

Hannah Arendt identified small groups of people as the engines of democratic revolution in her seminal work on the subject, On Revolution. According to Arendt, the fact that a revolution is underway is evidenced, more than anything, by the spontaneous coming together of such small groups, the Committees of Correspondence in the case of the American Revolution, the communes in the French Revolution, and the soviets in the Russian Revolution

Small groups, providing empathetic and mutual support, are the route to real change - individual and collective!

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