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Kindness is one of the most treasured qualities in a human being: the capacity for being friendly, generous, and considerate. Are some people predisposed to kindness? Is kindness learned?

Dr. Brian Goldman, the host of CBC’s White Coat, Black Art asked himself these questions as he considered whether human beings might be hardened to kindness over time. As a Toronto doctor who, along with his medical colleagues across the country, has attended to many patients and their families every working day for many years, he wondered whether empathy was something that could wane and disappear over time.

Surprising himself, Goldman’s quest took him way beyond the walls of a hospital and across the world. Crisscrossing the globe, he took part in brain scans in Montreal, interacted with social robots in Japan, and participated in simulated reality presentations created by the United Nations. He also visited two Ground Zero bars, spent time with a Tim Horton’s manager, researched the Roots of Empathy program, and sat with a residential school survivor.

The resulting book is not the one Goldman initially proposed to his publisher. His conclusions were a surprise but also gave him hope. Kindness and empathy are in fact virtues that are nurtured, learned, and accessible to the human heart. Furthermore, Goldman’s conclusions about kindness might be the most effective antidote to a world that is filled with hostility, cynicism, and animosity. (HarperCollins)

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