Should we really call into question the devastating consequences of human activity on climate stability? Preventing an increase in the greenhouse effect is above all an act of solidarity and empathy, empathy towards our own generation, future generations, the animal kingdom and the environment.

Can we change the violent world in which we live and save our planet from the effects of global warming?

By bringing our children up in a caring environment, they will become altruistic adults capable of eradicating violence throughout the world and protecting the environment for the sake of humanity.

“The Odyssey of Empathy” demonstrates that this is possible. Human origins Matthieu Ricard’s kindness, Kalahari bushmen, Pierre Rabhi, the Farmer-Philosopher and the latest neuroscientific discoveries all prove that a happy and violence-free childhood are the natural foundations of empathy.

By bringing our children up in a caring environment, they become respectful citizens and environmentally aware adults.



Film crew

Michel MEIGNANT and Mário VIANA

Jean-Michel GODE
Executive Producer

Chief Editor

Laure MANN
Production Assistant

Jean-Christophe BARRAS


Artistic Assistant






François BILLER, Birthe GLUUD
IT documentation

Treasurer "Les Parents d'Amour"

Technical Assistance

Length 105mn - French version

English subtitled version



The musics

El sistema - Simon Bolivar youth orchestra Further information <<<

"Ode to joy" of Beethoven

"Canon" by Pachelbel




In order of appearance


- Arnaud Deroo <<<

- Marylène Patou-Mathis <<<

- Muriel Salmona <<<

- Pierre Rabhi <<<

- José Antonio Abreu <<<

- Gustavo Dudamel <<<

- Marion Cuerq <<<

- Isabelle Filliozat <<<

- Catherine Gueguen <<<

- Matthieu Ricard <<<

- Thomas d’Ansembourg <<<

- Edwige Antier <<<

- Jacqueline Cornet <<<

- Sophie Rabhi-Bouquet <<<

- Nadine Arié <<<

- Cornelia Gauthier <<<

- Claudine André <<<

- Joseph Weismann <<<


We would like to thank all of the other people for their contributions.

Please refer to the section Additional footage




Arnaud DEROO

Arnaud Dehoo

The Head of Childcare at Lambersart Créateur, responsible for anti-violence interactive media and founder of "Bougeothèque de Lambersart" (movement sessions with toddlers).

Author of:
« Porter un regard bien-traitant sur l'enfant et sur soi : Sois sage, obéis ! » Éditions Chronique

Further information <<<



Marylène Patou-Mathis

Marylène Patou-Mathis, a Pre-Historian from The Museum of Natural History in Paris and winner of the Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet Foundation prize from whom she secured a grant to make her 1988 film about Bushmen : « Le crépuscule des Bochimans ».

Author of :
« Une mort annoncée. A la rencontre des bushmen, derniers chasseurs-cueilleurs du Kalahari ». Éditions Perrin.

Further information <<<

Marylène Patou-Mathis, demonstrates that in pre-historic times, people lived peaceful lives. When visiting primitive Bushman tribes in Namibia it became clear that the children were raised with compassion and respect for the environment.






Muriel Salmona

As a Psychiatrist specialising in psychotraumatology and victimology, she maintains that the prohibition of corporal punishment should not only be a basic human right but a public order issue!

« This type of seemingly commonplace abuse begins from the moment a parent leaves a crying baby alone unconsoled in the dark. This can develop into slaps, smacks, shouting and humiliation towards the child – supposedly for the child’s “benefit”. Gradually however, this commonplace violence becomes the foundation of multiple anxieties within the child, the teenager and then the adult, who grows to believe that he or she should either be violent or subject to violence. The cycle of violence has thus been set in motion … it will eventually destroy humanity. »

Further information <<<


Pierre RABHI

Pierre Rabhi

Essayist, Farmer and Philosopher who makest the link between interpersonal empathy and environmental empathy.

Further information <<<


José Antonio ABREU

José Antonio Abreu

In 1975, the Economist and Musician, José Antonio Abreu founded « Social Action for Music” in Venezuela.
The El Sistema Programme is known for saving young people from extreme poverty and from its inevitable consequences (delinquency, drug addiction etc.)

« Initially, art was created by a minority for a minority. Then it became art by a minority for the majority. We are now entering an age where art is created by the majority for the majority. »

« Everything that is good, commendable and noble must be replicable, otherwise it would not be truly good and noble. Therefore, what is good for one empoverished child must be so for all empoverished children. »

Further information <<<



Gustavo Dudamel

As a young, elightened participant of one of El Sistema’s programmes, Gustavo Dudamel, went on to direct Simón Bolívar’s Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1999.
He has since become Musical Director of his own orchestra and was later appointed Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Further information <<<


Marion CUERQ

Marion Cuerq

Marion Cuerq left France at the age of 18 to follow her childhood dream of living in Sweden.
She produced the film « If I’d known, I’d have been born in Sweden», where she shows how important the opinions of children are and how advantageous it is to grow up in the country of her dreams.

Further information <<<



Isabelle Filliozat

Psychotherapist and Director of the School of Interpersonal and Emotional Intelligence at EIREM, Aix en Provence

Author of « Il me cherche - comprendre ce qui se passe dans sont cerveaux entre 6 et 11 ans ».
Éditions JC Lattès

Further information <<<


Catherine GUEGUEN

Catherine Gueguen

A Pediatrician, she explains the impact of trauma on the cereberal development of children and how this can be cured with nurture and love.

Children raised without smacking, shouting and humiliation experience greater neuronal growth than badly treated children.

Author of « Pour une enfance heureuse – Repenser l’éducation à la lumière des dernières découvertes sur le cerveau ».
Éditions Robert Laffont.

Further information <<<


Matthieu RICARD

Matthieu Ricard

A writer, Buddhist Monk and Doctor in cellular genetics, he claims that through altruism, people are “super-cooperators”.

Further information <<<




Thomas Ansembourg

A Psychotherapist and University Lecturer teaches an approach he refers to as « Non violent conscious processes ». « Violence is not in our nature, it is the expression of a violation of our nature. »

Further information <<<



Edwige Antier

This Paediatrician approached the French Parliament with a proposal to outlaw corporal punishment.

She frequently witnesses its negative impact and passionately campaigns for this to stop.

Further information <<<


Jacqueline CORNET

Jacqueline Cornet

She founded the charity « Don’t slap, Don’t smack » which campaigns for a law to change the behaviour of both teachers and parents.

Further information <<<



Sophie Rabhi Bouquet

A teacher who founded the charity “la Ferme des Enfants” (The children’s farm), an innovative school in which children flourish freely. She shares her thoughts and observations on grade and sanction-free education.

Further information <<<


Nadine ARIE

Nadine Arie

Retired Doctor, volunteer at SOS friendship.




Cornelia Gauthier

Psychotherapist specialising in the effects of corporal punishment.

Author of
« Victime ? Non, merci ! : Sortir du cercle infernal » Éditions Jouvence.


Further information <<<


Claudine ANDRE

Claudine Andre et les Bonobos

Humans are descendants of a common ancestor seven million years ago. This species gave us gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and ourselves. Certain violent chimpanzees evolved into gentle bonobos, orphaned when their mothers were killed by hunters.

Today, Claudine André saves Bonobos by giving them intensive mothering in her sanctuary « Lola Ya Bonobos » (Bonobos Paradise) in Congo Kinshasa.

To know more of LOLA YA BONOBOS <<<

Further information <<<



Joseph Weismann

Joseph Weismann is at the centre of our study. He is one of the rare escapees from the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup as well as from the Nazi transit camp in Beaune-la-Rolande, where he was cruelly separated first from his father, then his mother. He tells us how he was saved by two policemen with a fellow escapee.

He campaigns against violence via accounts of his own experience.

Author of « Après la rafle ». Éditions Michel Lafon.

Further information <<<



Some extracts from the narrative of the film

Marylène Patou-Mathis
…In today's society, it's vitally important to understand where this violence comes from. From my perspective, it's not new. Every study I've undertaken, concludes that Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnon, nomadic hunter-gatherers, left very few traces of violence and no traces of war in the sense of collective massacres…

Muriel Salmona
…Violence feeds off inequality, off the view that one believes that there are inferior types of being. Even children can be guilty of this, as can women. The more people are traumatised, the more they become isolated, the more others can do what they what to them. They say nothing and are easily taken advantage of, either by being subjected to further physical aggression, or by making them do outrageous things, creating extremely dangerous situations, as can be defined by the actions of the Charlie Hebdo and Vincennes Kosher supermarket killers.

Pierre Rabhi
…Human beings are subject to something pitiful which demands compassion. Human beings are afraid. As long as he is unable to overcome this fear, he is unable to do anything. It is fear that justifies the defence of territory, weapons, multiple abuses, human versus human, human versus nature. I have done away with all of this. I am no longer neither Muslim nor Christian, nothing but a being that says "Love your enemies", that love is the overriding power, now that is something I can adhere to…

Matthieu Ricard
…This kindness is part of your deepest being, what you can become, to use all means available In order to release the full potential of each being. The idea that it can be compressed, hidden, buried in rock, buried in mud or excrement, but gold is gold, it is what it is, it can always be found. It can be made shine, as It always was, it isn't manufactured, the potential is within…

Thomas d’Ansembourg
...In my view violence is not a manifestation of our character, violence is an expression of frustration with our character. It is when our character becomes frustrated, when the pressure-cooker effect makes us angry, that we become violent with others. Or, when the pressure-cooker can't explode, the violence turns on us. This implosion leads to sickness, depression, burnout etc. As a result we absolutely must learn to respect our own nature, who we really are…
…I have acquired this deep conviction that we can't achieve respect for life by pure chance, without having learnt to respect it from within…

Edwige Antier
…The rule of law is essential here. Until it is engraved in the stone of our republic's constitution, people will continue to hit children "the abolition of corporal punishment" Abolition, stronger than proscription, means it is no longer part of our culture…

Sophie Rabhi- Bouquet
…Legislation is essential but it is not enough. Many people feel helpless when confronted with the need for alternatives to punishment, domination of the child, grading, all that we know in fact. There is consequently a pressing requirement to find new tools, and to put them to work, to be able to pass them on to parents and teachers…

Marion Cuerq
…It doesn't mean that we are denying history. Years ago, women were beaten, the death penalty existed, and people were tortured. We have evolved beyond this! But why haven't we evolved when children are involved? One must imagine that we just don't question all that we have learned, we just say to ourselves "Ok, you've done it because, 20 years ago, we didn't know otherwise. Now, in 2015, I have access to plenty of things to which you had no access at the time and that I know, we no longer do. This doesn't make you a bad parent, it just means that now, I am evolving…



Additional footage

- Pascal Picq - Paleoanthropology - Collège de France  <<< Further information

- Vanessa Woods  - Primatology - North Carolina - USA <<< Further information             

- Brian Hare - Primatology - North Carolina - USA <<< Further information

- David Dutartre - Familylab - The laboratory families <<< Further information

- Michel Odent - Surgeon and obstetrician - Writer <<< Further information

- Catherine Dumonteuil-Kremer - Chief Editor PEPS <<< Further information

- Cassiopee Athlan - Oriental Language student - Former pupil from lycée “Autogéré Paris”

- Leon Tsamkgao - Son of the Village Chief of Ju/'Hoan - Nhoma village - Namibia

- Les San and the reserve of Nyae Nyae Conservacy - Namibia

- Guide Kaeste Gcao of Nhoma - Namibia <<< Further information

- Arno Oosthuysen Nhoma Safari Camp - Namibia

- Sylvie Téveny - Ethnologist specialising in the Inuit world <<< Further information

- Véronique Gaspard - C N V - Non Violent Communication <<< Further information

- Isabelle Desplat - Ecological farmer - Non Violent Communication <<< Further information

- Redouane Saloun - Ecological farmer - Non Violent Communication <<< Further information

- Jeremy Rifkin - Writer prospectiviste - USA <<< Further information

- Guy Corneau - Jungian Psychoanalyst - writer - Canada <<< Further information


Thank all of the other people for their contributions.

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