Compassion and Vengeance with Dr. Andrew Bard Schmookler

Nov 22, 2023

The images on the news are heartbreaking, regardless of which side you support. People killed, displaced, trapped beneath the rubble, children screaming in fear, entire families gone. These scenes are horrifying, but so are the responses from many of our political leaders, who so often speak of retaliation and vengeance. Today on The Other Side of Potential, we ask: what does it mean to have compassion in the middle of all this conflict?

For this episode, we are joined by returning guest, Dr. Andrew Bard Schmookler, a prize-winning author, speaker, radio talk-show host, and former Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia. Since the late 1960s, Andy has investigated the ways that both constructive and destructive forces operate in civilized societies.

Join us as we discuss the role of compassion, Andy’s hope for a “more ordered” future, the systemic forces that perpetuate brokenness, why solving war and saving democracy are critical for our survival as a species, and more!

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The innate destructive force of civilization and why Andy advocates for compassion.
  • Changes that are taking place in our society and the hope for a “more ordered” future.
  • Why it’s important to acknowledge that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Differentiating between the role of human nature and systemic forces in our broken world.
  • Sources of goodness we can draw upon, including spiritually transformative experiences.
  • Insight into the battle between democracy and fascism.
  • The developmental movement versus the battle between brokenness and wholeness.
  • How war generates a self-perpetuating system of brokenness by creating trauma.
  • Why “solving the problem of war” is critical for our survival as a species.
  • The paramount importance of saving democracy and the rule of law.
  • Reflecting on whether it’s possible to educate people to self-govern.
  • Andy’s belief that vengeance and compassion can be combined.


Transcript: Here

Additional Resources:



Books:The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution

Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds That Drive Us to War


Sharon Spano:








The Other Side of Potential Podcast: