I am a writer, ethics strategist and public speaker, dedicated to the goal of a gentler world with less suffering. Since June 2016 I am the Executive Director of the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering (OPIS), a Swiss think-and-do tank I founded to promote the prevention of human and non-human suffering as our overriding global ethical priority. One of our first areas of focus is improving access to morphine for patients in moderate to severe pain in lower-income countries. We are seeking the incorporation of compassionate, suffering-focused ethics into all global decision-making.
My first book The Battle for Compassion: Ethics in an Apathetic Universe (New York: Algora Publishing, 2011) addresses the question “what matters?”, offering a sweeping overview of our situation as a species and detailing the kinds of considerations I believe are necessary for shaping a more compassionate future for our planet. I am currently working on a new book that develops a more holistic approach to thinking about ethics and attempts to reconcile the roles of intuition and rationality – I expect it to be published in 2019.
I also produced a short film based on The Battle for Compassion that communicates some of the book’s key messages:
The decisions we make as individuals and organisations often reflect unexamined values and priorities that are in conflict with the gentler world we all want deep down. Ethics is about reconnecting with our capacity for compassion towards others, and making rational decisions that are aligned with compassionate values, so that we can have real impact in reducing suffering in the world. Transparent ethical values and principles are an essential basis for designing a happier future.
An article I wrote for the Huffington Post’s Pioneers for Change blog titled “The Ethics of Impact” summarises some of my thoughts.
An article titled “Thriving in the Age of Factory Farming” reflects on the paradox of wanting to derive pleasure from existence while there is massive, legally sanctioned torture of sentient beings taking place within our societies, and on the need for balance in our own lives so that we can be more effective as activists.
This is an informal 20-minute talk I gave about shaping a more compassionate society grounded in ethics. It took place on 2 July 2017 at Campfire Convention Chesham, one of a series of events co-hosted by producer Pete Lawrence, who created the Big Chill events in the 90’s and has now set up the online and offline Campfire Convention network to promote social change and a more inclusive society:
And this is a 12-minute “Guided Meditation for Activists” that I prepared in order to support self-forgiveness and compassion for others, especially for people aiming to reduce suffering in the world:
A talk I gave in London at an event for yoga practitioners considering shifting to a plant-based diet:
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