What Does The Empathy Symbol Stand For?

The Empathy Symbol stands for 2 “sides” reaching out to each other, and opening up to try to truly understand the other’s experiences and feelings. It could be 2 groups of people: men and women, blacks and whites, Jews and Muslims, fundamentalist Christians and atheists, Israelis and Palestinians, gays and straights, old and young, able-bodied and disabled, immigrants and native-born, and so on; or it could be 2 individuals: spouses, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

The Original Empathy Symbol, created in 1973

People have asked about the origins of the empathy symbol. I was a college student, active in the anti-Vietnam war movement. EmpathyMedallion150wI was contemplating the peace symbol I was wearing, when suddenly the idea for the empathy symbol popped into my head, full-blown. It felt as though it had been given to me, and I have felt spiritually charged to bring it to the world ever since. Deb Ellsworth

Empathy News

Featured Empathy Promoter

Start EmpathyStart Empathy

An exciting new initiative is gaining a lot of followers in schools, among parents and others concerned with creating a positive future in which today’s children grow up learning and practicing the vital skill of empathy. As they explain it, “Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, is a community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.
“We urgently must see young people as changemakers and help them develop the skills they need to be empathetic, ethical actors who will positively impact their own lives, their communities, their schools, their companies, their countries and the world, now and throughout their lives.
“Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative is expanding and leveraging Ashoka’s network of social entrepreneurs and other changemakers to drive a movement to make empathy a priority skill for all children. We seek to accelerate society to a tipping point at which this idea becomes inevitable because a new framework has taken hold.”
A growing number of schools are becoming what Start Empathy is calling Changemaker schools. Check out Start Empathy’s explanation on how these schools are fostering empathy skills in their students, and see which Changemaker schools are in your area.

You can connect with Start Empathy at its website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

See our previously featured Empathy Promoters.

Using the Empathy Symbol

Empathy Tattoos

  • Jonathan says: It really means a lot to me and speaks for my morals and outlook on life.
  • David G. proudly shows his commitment to empathy.
  • Amanda says, “I love this movement. I am an introverted person by nature and though I consider myself considerate, empathy isn’t second nature for me. That is why I chose to have a permanent reminder that I need to try to see the world through others’ eyes. It’s my feather :)
  • Nils says, “I got my empathy symbol tattoo almost two years ago. the symbol is part of a bigger tattoo …. I also got the symbol on my bicycle . 😉 Greetings from Germany.
  • Kristeena says: I am from San Antonio and got this while visiting Los Angeles. I’m a counselor who works with at risk youth and Empathy is my life.
  • Katie says ” I got this done in August because I wanted to remind myself to be more empathetic and also because I wanted to educate people about empathy and what it’s all about. The empathy symbol is on my pinky. ”
  • Tyler says ” This tattoo reminds me everyday to be more understanding of others and hopefully live in a world where everyone can empathise with each other.”
  • James is proudly displaying his new tattoo that says, “Humility, Empathy, Respect”
  • My name is Fernando and I’m a psychiatrist here in Brazil. I always loved the definition and the discussion about empathy. I also think the whole world would be better if everyone simply started exercising empathy everyday.