Eric Sirotkin: 'Truth, Reconciliation and Empathic Civilization'

Eric Sirotkin is a human rights lawyer, group facilitator, coach and self-described peacemaker.

As a mediator, he says his goal is to find "the path to reconciliation and create an opportunity to heal the conflict." He conducted trial and civil rights work for three decades and has worked with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sirotkin will give a free lecture titled "Truth, Reconciliation and Empathic Civilization" based on his experiences in South Africa and North and South Korea from 1 to 3 p.m. today, Feb. 6, at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute campus.

In a process he calls "Legal Wellness," he says conflict can lead to transformation and growth.

Sirotkin moved to Ashland permanently five years ago, after spending part of his time here for 16 years, in between living in Albuquerque, N.M., and traveling for his work to India, Peru, Cuba, France, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Vietnam and China.

He started the Ashland-based nonprofit Ubuntuworks Peace Education Project and was an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law. He also co-wrote and produced a free speech documentary called "Committing Poetry in Times of War."

Favorite aspects about Ashland: So many people doing creative things that reflect health, love, art and a new way of looking at life. Organic co-op, theatre and people smiling.

Career highlights: Represented sanctuary workers aiding fleeing Central America refugees in the 1980s. Traveled to South Africa to work with the African National Congress on a new constitution (1991). Was an international election observer in South Africa during Nelson Mandela's election (1994) and worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Anything more you'd like to add?: Litigated many whistleblower and discrimination cases on behalf of fired and abused employees. Recipient of the Albuquerque Human Rights Award. Meets annually with Congress and the State Department to share ideas on making peace in Korea.

What fact about your subject gets your audience's attention? Too often people have lost hope in a new way of relating in our world. By drawing on both the successes and struggles of the Truth and Reconciliation process, as well as the lessons about "Ubuntu" learned n South Africa, we are filled with the feeling that we can thrive as a planet.

How do you first introduce yourself to your audience? Abraham Lincoln once said "the nobleness of lawyering is peacemaking."

What do you like to do in Ashland during your time off? Work on the healthy house I am building, tiling, movie nights with close friends, and marvel at my 4-year-old grandson Lucean.

What do you still have on your to-do list? A few months in Italy, dance at my grandson's wedding, have a peace agreement ending the Korean War, teach at SOU.

How can we learn more about you? Memoir almost finished and should come out at the end of the year called "Witness: A Lawyer's Journey to Overcome Us vs Them." Visit and

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