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Political Science Canadian


Turning Compassion into Action

by (author) David Johnston

with Brian Hanington

foreword by Rosalie Abella

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Jan 2023
Canadian, 21st Century, Cultural
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
    List Price

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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 the authors

Contributor Notes

Canada's 28th Governor General, DAVID JOHNSTON is chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation, and advisor at Deloitte and at Fairfax Financial Holdings. 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 is the author or co-author of 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.

Editorial Reviews

"Extraordinarily positive, though not always rosy, this is a guidebook to goodness – for individuals, communities, and nation-states. Anchored in personal and professional anecdotes, Empathy is actually a memoir cleverly disguised as a self-help book for humanity. As someone who has witnessed the most extreme consequences imaginable of the absence of empathy, I say that with both deep respect and gratitude for its practical value." —Romeo Dallaire

Other titles by David Johnston

Other titles by Brian Hanington