About Us


Climate survival is the strategic reason the world needs more empathy

Since 2014, Empathy Surplus Project has been committed to the UN Global Compact corporate responsibility initiative and its ten principles in the areas of human rights, living work and leisure, climate survival, and anti-corruption of government.

We especially focus on partnering with individual Rotarians. We promote the re-establishment of the 2009 Collaboration between Rotary International and the Global Compact outlined in this joint letter to Rotary District Governors.

Our Mission Strengthens A Human Rights Expectation

“To educate a man is to unfit him to be a slave.”

—Frederick Douglass (1818-1895),
escaped slave, abolitionist, author

“Everyone has duties to the community in which the free and full development of his personality is possible.”

—Article 29, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human well-being is the focus of morality and politics. Empathy is the soul of democracy, citizens caring for one another, leading to freedom and fairness for all. Every election is a choice between empathic government or authoritarian government, which shuns empathy as a core value for governing.  Today’s challenge is how to reverse the world’s empathy deficit.

Cognitive scientist Dr. George Lakoff has identified two nation as family metaphors that currently dominate American thought – the nation as nurturant parents or the nation as strict father. The language of those same nation as family metaphors are also used unconsciously in ethical business, public government task forces, and caring society organizations. Consequently, people are morally complex.

Because of this moral complexity, effective thought leaders always use empathic language. Why? Because empathy is hard wired in humans at birth. Cognitive science now knows that empathy can be strengthened or weakened through the use of language that is focused on nurturant parents and empathy or strict fathers and authority respectively.

ESP believes caring citizens are the solution. Caring citizens are solutions ONLY if they are effective thought leaders. ESP is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, charitable, membership, collective education organization. ESP participants strengthen caring citizen though leadership to promote effective government and progressive markets through mutual responsibility.

The educational mission of the Empathy Surplus Project is to:

Promote the latest brain research by Dr. George Lakoff and colleagues that informs caring citizen though leadership education;

Support caring citizen thought leadership education, through a network of neighborhood congresses, especially of our elected representatives and their core constituents at the state and local levels, that strengthens respect, protection, and promotion of universally recognized human rights;

Assist our Empathy Surplus Congresses in protecting and promoting human rights locally; and

Partner with like-minded public government task forces, ethical businesses, and / or caring society organizations to strengthen effective government of, by, and for people at all levels.

Basic participation begins when you purchase one of George Lakoff’s books, and then request free access to ESP’s Workplace by facebook. There, together, we can collectively change the language we will use in our diverse spheres of influence. Email info@empathysurplus.com and request access.

Caring citizen thought leaders are the solution.

You can find caring citizens everywhere, especially in government task forces, ethical businesses, and caring society organizations. The Preamble of the UN Charter states that

“We the people of the United Nations determined . . . to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms . . . have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”

We hope caring citizens will consider becoming monthly human rights progressives to remind us that together we can make progress for better life standards that expand freedoms.

We are especially reaching out to Rotarians and Lions, because 50 Rotarians and 3 Lions helped to write the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California, after World War II in June of 1945. Learn More.

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Our Declaration to Build a Caring Society

I am a caring citizen.

I occupy compassion.

I here highly resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

I am a person with human rights.

I care for my own Safety and Happiness and that of others.

I am the solution to expanding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And for the support of this declaration, joining caring citizens known and unknown, we mutually pledge to one another our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

A Letter from the Board

When we consider the future, the collaborative vision of our parents after World War II still resonates with us. That generation called the world and future generations to collaborate. In the UN Charter Preamble in 1945, they wrote in part,

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined… to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms… have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”

Empathy is the soul of democracy and the foundation of any effective republic. You have to have empathy to collaborate well. The empathy deficit we currently have in government and the global economy was created over the last fifty years by those who reject empathy as a core governing value.

Despite a groundswell of empathic voices emerging, we must double down on empathy building. It’s all hands on deck. And the human rights to life and freedom in the context of our climate emergency are the strategic reasons the world’s people and governments need more empathy. That’s why we hope you will consider joining us in adult collective education of caring citizen thought leaders to build the empathy surplus needed in our local spheres of influence.

Yes. We did say ongoing collective education. In 2004 our founder read Dr. George Lakoff’s 1st edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. It came with a 25 minute DVD. Dr. Lakoff directed his readers to check out his then think tank, The Rockridge Institute. The next year the Rockridge Institute launched Rockridge Nation, an on-line collective education community of practice. Participants could, without cost to themselves, read and discuss the material to practice how to govern their particular sphere of influence with strength, empathy for and responsibility to others. Our founder served on that on-line community’s board of advisors. We seek to continue that offering.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Empathy Surplus Project (ESP), with Dr. Lakoff’s mentorship and encouragement, is in its eleventh year. In the tradition of the Rockridge Nation, ESP continues to offer a much needed on-line community of practice with the help of Workplace by facebook. We hope you will consider joining us on-line and embrace our Four Empathic Activities and start reading and inwardly digesting and discussing Dr. Lakoff’s insights into the brain on applying empathy and responsibility to the public square. Get in touch below or email info@empathysurplus.com.

Yes. We do need to be involved in the electoral process. Every election at every level is a choice between more empathic government versus authoritarian government dismantling it. Yet more importantly, we need to unite behind both cognitive science and linguistics. Now is the time, to know and understand our empathic values and reframe the debate around empathy. Dr. Lakoff’s Introduction to his bestselling Don’t Think of an Elephant is entitled “Reframing IS Social Change.” If we are going to change the world, we must change our language, and repeat our language, to describe the empathic world we want.

Yes. We have the science.  For too long it has been used to inhibit empathy in government and our economy. We know what to do to advance effective government and progressive markets through mutual responsibility. And the most important thing we must do is to talk continuously about the empathy surplus that we want in our world. We can use cognitive science for good. I hope you will consider how you can help. We have two needs for donations.

The first need is for help for us to physically engage in dialogue with our partners in the Global Compact and in Rotary. Ironically, most people, Rotarians included, are unaware of Rotary’s contribution to the UN’s establishment, and the potential for partnerships. We are receiving invitations to dialogue with both groups that require travel and lodging. We have no employees – yet – and none of our board receives a salary. Consider becoming a monthly freedom investor with an amount of your choosing at this link. Or consider an ad sponsorship in our pocketbook version of the Illustrated Universal Declaration of Human Rights – email info@empathysurplus.com

The second need is for complimentary pocketbook copies of the Illustrated Universal Declaration of Human Rights to share when dialoguing with potential partners. A box of 25 that we can use at our discreation, either physically or through the mail, is $108. Consider that amount or divide by any number up to 12 and become a monthly progress investor at this link.

Get In Touch

12 + 9 =

George Lakoff's Resources

The basic idea is this: It is free and open to all. We will provide framing suggestions regularly over social media, and whoever receives them can decide how to use them, and whether to share them or retweet them.  The process is bottom up.

We also offer this framing service to activist organizations, media folks, and elected officials and their staffs.

Empathy is the soul of democracy, citizens caring for one another, leading to freedom and fairness for all. The Empathy Surplus Project (ESP) is a non-profit, charitable, membership, collective education organization. ESP strengthens caring citizen thought leadership to promote effective government and progressive markets through mutual responsibility. Your monthly freedom investments help reframe our world. Please invest today.

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