Jamil Zaki’s The War for Kindness wasn’t always a war. When the Stanford University psychology professor started writing his acclaimed book, which asserts that empathy is a skill that can be built, it was called Choosing Empathy. But then something happened that made the choice seem much more difficult than simply reaching for the top shelf of available emotional capacities.
In 2016, when Donald Trump stunned the world by winning the U.S. presidential election, he exposed deep, acrimonious, and seemingly unbridgeable chasms among people. The election was, at the time, the culmination of a series of such divisive events around the world. By 2016, the Syrian refugee crisis was at its height, with nations arguing over whether to tighten borders. The U.K. had voted to leave the European Union in 2016. And tens of thousands had perished in hate- and terror-driven attacks around the world, including in France; at