Stories for Stories of Compassion

These are news posts that pertain to Stories of Compassion.

Highlights for Earth Week from Around the World!

Greetings Compassionistas of Planet Earth!

We are proud to report that over 30 teams from 4 continents inspired thousands of people to come together, acting in ways that affirm our love and compassion for the Earth and all her inhabitants. This awakening biophilia, or “love of life”, is transforming the world!

We are still in the process of gathering the reflection reports on the Compassion Mapand have set a “liveline” (deadline) on the Scoreboard for Friday, May 8th. If you participated in Earth Week or Earth Day, add your report to make your actions known to the world! These reports uplift countless others, measure our collective impact, and show what we are capable of when we come together to act compassionately in our communities!

Here are some of the stories and highlights from Earth Week that we are aware of so far!


 

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 11.31.53 AMOne of the new and most exciting ways to play during Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week was on the Story Mapping Challenge. We want to give a huge thank you to our partner Esri for making this resource available. In the challenge, players upload a photo of a place they love and tell a story about why they love this place. Take a look to explore a literal world of stories of people from around the planet, and consider adding your own to the map!


Biophiliac and Proud Meme Small

Are you a biophiliac, or “lover of life”? A positive relationship with the natural world is being identified by scientific research as a

key indicator for one’s sense of overall well-being and even feelings of compassion. During Earth Week, people were proud to identify themselves as a biophiliacs and rally behind their love of life as a motivator for compassionate action and change. Learn more about the profound advantages to unleashing your inner biophiliac and living a longer, healthier life here!


 

We are deeply grateful to Andy Smallman, David Spangler, Fish Astronaut, and everyone from the International Kindness Team who organized these incredible missions and activities associated with the Secret Agents of Green Compassion. Here is an excerpt from Day 1’s Mission:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.44.20 AMGood Morning Agents…

As Secret Agents of Green Compassion, we are part of a conspiracy with nature. Conspiracy comes from the Latin meaning “to breathe together,” which is literally what we do with nature.  We take in her substance in various ways and she takes in ours in reciprocity. We conspire together to express life on earth. But just what is this conspiracy to which we belong? And how are we conspiring?

Intrigued to know more? View all 8 missions that took place during Earth Week here and find ways to help bring ourselves and other humans into balance with nature as we shower the Earth with green compassion.


Compassion As

The Mayors & Cities League stepped up in a big way for Serve the Earth Week. In 2013, Mayors from around the country passed a landmark resolution calling for compassion as effective public policy. We all know documents aren’t enough to accomplish the compassionate change we seek, so cities like Louisville, KY under the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer hosted their annual “Give-A-Day” where community members gave one day of Earth Week back to the community through acts of compassionate service. Learn more here!


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Baltimore’s riots last week have highlighted the growing unrest and injustices across America. Many are being forced to rethink assumptions we’ve made about race, power, civility, and compassion. Yet, leaders like Reverend Jim Lee are stepping up to guide us away from despair and into a place of compassion and profound healing. He urges his community to “Love our way through the pain. Let’s make the pain the lesson, not the reason.” Check out the way Lee’s community of Metro Detroit used the Compassion Games Earth Week coopetition to uplift one another and find pride in their city and the places they love.


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Can the love of money and oil be greater than the love people have for their home, land, and waters? In Seattle, WA community members, activists, and the Indigenous Peoples League are standing up to Shell Oil who intends to dock their drilling rigs in Seattle ports before expanding their exploration of the arctic for oil. Learn and be inspired here by what this community is doing in creative and loud ways to say “sHell No!” with a flotilla of kayaks and the power of the people!

 


The Earth gives us everything… water, food, shelter, and ultimately life! This Compassion Games coopetition – focused on awakening a love for our planet in a way that is positive, playful, and collaborative – was a remarkable way to ignite compassionate action to give back to our only home.

Start preparing for the Annual, Global September Compassion Games! Beginning on 9/11’s National Day of Service and ending on 9/21, the International Day of Peace, this Compassion Games coopetition takes place during the 11 Days of Global Unity. Learn more about it here!

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Thank you for all that YOU do to make the world a safer, kinder, and more vibrant place to live for the Earth and all living beings! Love wins!

Love of Salish Sea Ignites Groundswell Opposition to Shell’s Arctic Drills in Seattle During Earth Week

A message from Earth Day of a possible future:

“It is on this day, this remarkable day, we give thanks to our ancestors. In the darkest time of our species’ history they faced a profound challenge. They faced themselves.

It is the very fact that we are here, alive today in abundance and safety, surrounded by our kin in this unfolding story of life, that we know they were mindful of our coming. We give our deepest thanks that they saw past the persuasions of an old and broken worldview, that they looked past dire uncertainty with courage and incredible strength.

We give our gratitude to you, ancestors, for unifying as One Human Family in the vision of a new story that teaches us, even now, to walk lightly on the Earth together with respect, with generosity… with compassion forever in our hearts for this Earth that we dearly love.”

-Ode to the Ancestors
in the Time of Great Remembering
Earth Day, Year 2200
 

Today is April 24, and it is Earth Week in the year 2015. Right now…you are alive, and what a time it is to be alive! We live in momentous times… At our fingertips we have access to a universe of knowledge and information that couldn’t even be fathomed just fifty years ago by the brightest thinkers. We have discovered laws of the universe that would baffle Newton himself. We are beginning to understand just how profoundly that all life is interconnected, that we are more like one great interdependent “super-organism” instead of the isolated individuals we may believe ourselves to be.

It is Earth Week 2015, and we – the “big-we,” the “human-race-we” – have profound opportunities placed before us, choices that are only ours to make. Can we transmute the knowledge and information we have acquired now into wisdom, and into compassionate action? Instinctually, we know that the war we are waging with nature must come to an end…this planet, after all, is our home. When the Earth suffers, we all suffer.

In Seattle, we are in the middle of celebrating the Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” coopetition (April 8-26). Communities around the world are challenging themselves and each other to inspire one another ignite our biophilia, or “love of life”, into compassionate action for the Earth. The Games are playful, but the stakes here are high; we are doing heavy lifting with a light heart. In the Pacific Northwest, an onslaught of fossil fuel companies intend to turn our home into a fossil fuel corridor for profit headed overseas, jeopardizing the land and waterways that life depends upon.

Biophiliac and Proud Meme SmallAmidst this backdrop of proposed fossil fuel development, Shell’s arctic drilling rigs are approaching Seattle ports, planning to dock and wait for a key seasonal window to explore the arctic and drill for oil. The lease for Shell to dock in Seattle was acquired privately without a public hearing. Consequentially and inevitably, a groundswell of opposition has arisen at the thought of such a tool being harbored here, considering Shell’s history of oil spills and disaster unpreparedness. For one, an environmental impact evaluation was never conducted to assess the risks of housing the oil rigs in Seattle waters. Perhaps even more critically, leaving the arctic oil in the ground is a high priority for all of us wishing to prevent Earth’s global temperature from rising two degrees celsius. A price, as they say, cannot be put on the havoc left behind in the event of an oil spill, or for that matter, the devastating cost of climate change.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.28.21 PMEnvironmental groups from the “sHell No Coalition” such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, BackBone Campaign, 350Seattle, Climate Solutions, and many others are organizing rallies and direct action to disrupt the rigs. Bill Moyer of the Backbone
Campaign says they aim to welcome the rigs into Seattle with the infamous “Flotilla of Kayaks,” but then make sure “the rigs never leave.” If successful, Shell’s rigs will miss their brief window to explore the arctic to drill for oil. (The rigs have already attempted to find oil, but Mother Nature has thus far taken a dire toll on the operation. Many fear an oil spill is inevitable if they continue, and would be impossible to mitigate).

So how do we actually turn our love into action and spark a movement to solve the challenges of our time? The last day of the Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” is on Sunday, April 26, and we are taking to the streets to act on behalf of the Earth.

A “Love Activation Dance Mob” will be starting at 11 a.m. in North Seattle and culminating at 2 p.m. at Seattle Center’s International Fountain, bringing together dancers, activists, percussionists, and musicians to celebrate the end of Earth Week.

The dance mob will then head down to the “sHell No – Seattle Draws the Line” rally at Myrtle Edward’s Park. The Nawtsmaat Alliance – an Indigenous lead alliance of Native and Non-Native peoples who aim to protect the region – will be represented. Sundance Chief Rueben George and Elder Ta’Ah George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., and Annie Leonard of GreenPeace will be among the speakers. The rally is leading up to a peaceful direct action in may known as the “Festival of Resistance,” where the people’s flotilla will attempt to prevent the rigs from leaving. (Have a kayak and want to train to get involved for the action in May? Go here!).

RSVP for the “Love Activation Dance Mob” here, and contact the organizer Sommer Joy Albertsen (Sommer@IslandJoyWellness.com) to coordinate get involved!

Go here to RSVP for the “sHell No – Seattle Draws the Line” at Myrtle Edwards Park on Sunday, April 26 at 2 p.m.!

Do you have an unrelinquishing love of the Salish Sea? Do you feel called to unleash your biophilia, or “love of life,” to ensure the Earth and all her species are protected in this life and for generations to come? It’s going to take all of us! Play in the Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” coopetition and join us this Sunday at 2 p.m. We look forward to rallying with you in the name of wisdom, compassion, and of course, life itself!

Our relatives of the future will appreciate it.

Players of Earth Week & Compassion as the Path to Justice and the American Dream

As we’re getting ready for the inaugural Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition, from April 18 through April 26, we are excited to introduce some of the “players” that will be participating. This is an extremely diverse group including teams from Portugal, Peru, United Kingdom, Italy, and cities in the United States and Canada including Detroit, Michigan, Syracuse, New York and Seattle, Washington.

Interfaith Works is the team in Syracuse, New York that participated in the February World Interfaith Harmony Week coopetition. 87287165-ef33-4691-9cbf-404a0993a93fThey submitted many reports to the Compassion Report Map about their inspiring acts of service. Recently, we talked with Yangwa Benjamani, one of the organizers of the team, and unexpectedly he let us in on the incredibly moving story of his community. Yangwa is from the Congo and his team includes many Congolese immigrants who have made the journey to America.

He reports that in the Congolese community there are many who feel hopeless and are in a state of despair after coming to America.  They realize that their dream of life in America is more difficult than expected and unfortunately they often turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with the disappointment. Yangwa says playing the Compassion Games has brought hope and a way to connect with the American culture. It is a way to show his countrymen that there are people in America who are compassionate and caring.  He reminded us that many of the immigrants were farmers in the Congo who have a deep connection with the land and the water. He said “by being in nature and breathing with nature, they experience more goodness.”  We are thrilled to have interfaith works be one of the teams participating in this upcoming coopetition.

Compassion Games Head Coach Sande Hart has been working with Rev. Jim Lee, Senior Minister of Renaissance Unity Church in 0567091a-ede2-42a3-a662-6d5f4180d64fDetroit, Michigan. Reverend Lee is bringing the Compassion Games to his community as a way to transcend the inclination to violence that stems from injustice.  He knows the Compassion Games is the way to reprogramming that pattern and it can only happen when love wins. Metro-Detroit is focusing on the Love This Place! Story Mapping challenge to literally “love the hell” out of their home.  You can read the full news story “Love the Hell Out of Detroit” here!

We know there are so many remarkable stories out there of people overcoming hardship and bringing compassion into the world. We hope you will join the action for Earth Week to make known what you are doing in your community to help inspire others!

It’s not too late to sign up your team to participate in this upcoming Love this Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition. You can learn more and register here!


Discover the many ways to play that can connect your community’s activities and events with other teams around the world to make this the most remarkable Earth Week in history!

Learn more and sign up for Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week here.

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Check out the Love This Place! Story Mapping Challenge to crowdsource your love of the Earth into compassionate action for all life! Where are places loved the most? Game on!

Story-Map-Snapshot

Love The Hell Out of Metro Detroit: From the Blame-Shame Game to the Compassion Games

In the early sixties, in the thick of the Civil Rights movement, at the Voters Rights office in Alabama, Andrew Young was about to step outside into the parking lot to meet members of the Ku Klux Klan.  Mr. Young, appointed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to head the voters rights effort, and has since gone on to become Mayor of Atlanta, US Congressman, and Ambassador to the United Nations, received a call thatkl-stargirl02i-fish0814the KKK were coming and that he might want to carry a gun. As he headed out the door to the ever so haunting image of men in white hoods, he went to pick up his gun, but his wife insisted he put it back in the desk drawer. She told him, ever so firmly, that he was to “Go Out There And Love The Hell Out of Them!”, and that’s just what he did. The KKK left peacefully that night. Andrew Young later wrote the Voters Rights Act that was passed in 1964.

While the Civil Rights Act has been passed and is now part of history, the cellular memory of fear, hatred and distrust is still as prevalent and unhealed in too many places in our great country today. “It’s as old as slavery” says Reverend Jim Lee, Sr. Minister of Renaissance Unity Church in Warren, Michigan in the Metro Detroit area. Every time a white policeman kills another black victim it keeps striking at the same nerve. Not that the act is not severe enough on it’s own volition, it’s just a matter of time before these nerves are going to erupt and lead to riots like those that have burnt cities to the ground in the past. Just one more strike at that nerve is enough to remove the thin veil covering the deep rage that we all know is there and bubbling to a boil, felt by people of all races, religion and culture.

Rev. Lee is responding to these mounting tensions in his community and feels strongly that the Compassion Games is the antidote to healing this burden that has plagued his community since the beginning of our country’s history, resurfacing again and again through time. He is determined to Love The Hell out of his community by “rewiring the cellular memory to a place of forgiveness so his city can thrive – so the beloved community can emerge.” Rev. Lee wants to be very clear, “Forgiveness is not about Little Onesforgetting the past. It doesn’t change what happened. What changes is the interpretation and perception with a new quality, a new tone can emerge to heal us today, so we can move on to the beloved community.” Rev. Lee says he wants to “Love our way thru the pain. Let’s make the pain the lesson, not the reason.”

The Love This Place! Story Mapping challenge is a perfect opportunity to help Metro-Detroit start seeing their community through the lens of the places that they Love. They have set a goal of 1,000 people identifying the places they love in the Metro-Detroit area and posting a photo and a description of why they Love This Place.  They might take a picture of the park bench, the 100 year old tree they pass each day, the corner market, or a historic building. When we start looking around our community for the things we love, we find so much more to love than we had ever realized. We become reprogrammed in that moment to be more loving toward ourselves. We will never look at that tree the same without recalling that love.

Rev. Lee knows we don’t have a single leader for this time of historic tension uprising like we have had in the past. He reminds us this only means it’s our time to step into our own power, into our own courage, into our own light and compassion, and he says, “if we don’t change we are just staying in the blame-shame
game. It’s time to move beyond that and it’s each of us alone that we have been waiting for, together.”

We may not have one single leader, but Reverend Lee is an exceptional model of what one person can do and he inspires us to rise to this challenge.  The Compassion Games are all about challenging ourselves and others to stretch our compassion muscles just a little bit further, deeper and higher through what natureCG16-0015-fish (1)gave us; the gift of life coupled with choice. The Games remind us to choose how we respond when our deepest instinct to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and all that we consider sacred is threatened. Gone are the days when we let fear rule us, when we demonize others, or we wait for someone else to change. Here are the days where we can Love away the fear, distrust and threat… Reverend Lee is is here to lead us to  “Love our way through the pain to healing.”

 

Are You a Biophiliac? Discover Nature’s Gifts of Awe, Longevity, and Compassion!

Collaboratively Written by Leadership Team Member Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH
& Compassion Games Storyteller Joey Crotty
 

Are you a “Biophiliac“? If you are reading this and happen to be human, you probably are.

The Compassion Games Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition is approaching quickly (April 18-26) with the goal to ignite and amplify compassionate action around the world to protect and celebrate our home, the Earth. At the Compassion Games Heartquarters we often say that “Green Compassion” (a term coined by Marc Barasch of the Green World Campaign) is the ultimate act of compassion, for its benefits reach far beyond our individual selves to all living beings who share this planet with us and to generations to come. As an ancient proverb says,

Butterfly Caves - Guilin, China

Compassion is planting a seedling under whose shade you may never sit.”

Yet just because Green Compassion extends far beyond our individual selves doesn’t mean the profound personal benefits should be overlooked. Western science is beginning to show us just how significantly our own personal well-being is integrated with the natural world. Human beings – as Indigenous teachings imply –  appear to be innately predisposed to connect with nature as a necessity for good health and mental well-being. Further, human beings may possess an inherent “biopilia”, or, a “love of life” that has been engendered by evolution and is cultivated by being immersed in nature and living systems. Feelings of awe have been identified as a key factor in this human-nature relationship.

In a research study conducted at the University of California – Berkeley “researchers have linked positive emotions — especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality — with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that signal the immune system to work harder”  (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/awe_boosts_health?utm_source=GGSC+Newsletter+%232-+February+2015&utm_campaign=GG+Newsletter+%232+-+February+2015&utm_medium=email ). The study suggests that “… a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” says UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author of the study.

Forest Stone Path, GermanyAnother research study, “Awe Expands Perception of Time”, conducted at Stanford University reveals a similar reality. Participants in the study who experienced awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available to them in their lives and were less impatient. Participants were also more willing to volunteer their time to help others (indicating a stronger sense of compassion and empathy), more strongly preferred experiences over material things, and reported higher overall life satisfaction. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120719161901.htm)

With the Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition, we hope to help further awaken a love for the Earth and all her inhabitants (including human beings!) that can be translated into a person’s everyday sense of awe, compassion, and happiness. Let’s channel our biophilia into compassionate action and loving stewardship of our one and only home, Mother Earth!

Introducing the Love This Place! Story Mapping Challenge for Earth Week

The Love This Place! Story Mapping Challenge is a fun, simple, and meaningful way to experience awe and express love for the places in nature that hold special significance for us. In this challenge, players identify their favorite places on Earth and capture them in a photo. These photos are then uploaded to an interactive and global crowdsourcing story map by ESRI where players can tell a story about their place and why it is important to them. These places are then geotagged and placed on the Love This Place! Story Map to be shared with participants around the world, lighting up our planet in a real and tangible way and celebrating our love for the Earth. Where are the places that are loved the most?! Can we identify 1,000 places that we love and share why we love them by Sunday, April 26th, the last day of the Serve the Earth Week coopetition? Game on!

Click here to submit the places you love to help ignite our innate biophilia around the world!

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In the Story Mapping Challenge, we honor and celebrate nature and our communities through photos and stories, inspiring in us a sense of awe and gratitude that can be translated into compassionate action for the Earth. In the words of renowned ecologist and ethologist Marc Bekoff, we practice “rewilding” ourselves and “becoming the seen” by understanding our intricate interdependence with all life. (Learn more about Marc’s work here: http://charterforcompassion.org/node/8482). Through the Compassion Games and the global map, we spread our empathy, awe and well-being to others, generating the power of “3D” compassion (caring for the Earth, others, & ourselves). Ultimately, by playing together, we are striving together toward a positive culture shift that is helping the world become a kinder and safer place to live for all beings, one act of biophilia at a time!

Join us and unleash your inner biophiliac!

Learn more about Serve the Earth Week here!
Register yourself or your team for Serve the Earth Week here!
 
 Biophiliac and Proud Meme Small

Solving Wicked Problems with the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest

(Header Image: “New Pioneers” from Mark Hensen)

At a time when religiously motivated violence seems to be more horrific and terrifying than ever, what would it take to transition our world to one of interfaith harmony and peace? It may seem pollyanna to wonder and idealistic to even ask if such a thing is possible. In a world permeated with intolerance and acts of hatred in the name of religion, how could we come to be in peace and harmony with one another? What would that take? A 21st century messiah? Divine intervention? Or a radical and creative shift of consciousness that playfully engages the full participation of the human species?

Social scientists consider this kind of problem a “wicked problem.” A wicked problem is one in which everyone agrees there is an issue, yet different stakeholders cannot agree on a definition of the problem or a course for a solution. This is because stakeholding groups in a wicked problem have radically different worldviews and thus different ways of understanding the problem and approaching a solution. World interfaith disharmony is truly such a wicked problem that can have horrific outcomes.

So how can we get to a world of interfaith harmony? Wicked problems can be “solved” by authoritative brute force, eliminating opposing perspectives and leaving power in the hands of a few. They can be “solved” through competition, leaving various parties to duke it out with a clear winner and loser. Or, they can be solved through collaboration, where all parties are brought to the table simultaneously, a common humanity is revealed, and overlaps in worldviews and values are discovered.

This is the very purpose of the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest. The Compassion Games awaken us to the power we each have as “players” to choose to play the “game” of life differently with each other and ourselves. As they say, “life games reflect life aims.”

We are living in a time of an emerging global world, where an essential interdependence and growing interconnectivities are Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 1.19.15 PMliterally changing the “rules of the game” of how our world operates. The rules of the game have gone from finite, win-lose zero sum games (which, like war, are really lose-lose games) to nonzero sum games where we either all lose or we all win. Economic interdependence, terrorism, cyber-security, contagious disease control, climate change, and violence in the name of religion are just a handful of the major “nonzero” challenges that we now face, and each of them span any human-made borders that once artificially confined us as if we were fundamentally different, or separate, from our neighbors around the world.

Can we arise to this global challenge and unprecedented moment to work together, and make collaboration and compassion the objective of the game?

Since we all have a stake in the outcome of how the game is played in our global world, each player in this new game is immeasurably valuable. A vital component and often overlooked dimension to this unfolding “global village” is the role of the individual in arising to meet the challenges of these new circumstances. It is easy for individuals to feel less significant in a coalescing sea of 7+ billion people (as if more people make each of our thoughts, concerns, and actions matter less). This feeling is amplified even more so with looming challenges that are so macro in scale and difficult to conceive. These feelings, although understandable, couldn’t be more far from the truth.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 2.12.47 PMThis is because in order to fundamentally solve the wicked problem of interfaith disharmony, we have to change the way we relate to each other, and this takes individual personal change and participation with others at a profound level. The collective cultural maturity required of us at this time calls for, in fact, the deepest kind of change: the change that comes from within. So in order for us to change collectively, it is each of us that needs to change personally. This is often more challenging, yet sometimes surprisingly easier and more profound than we can ever imagine. There is a power that each of us has in which we can choose to change the game we are playing, because we are playing one whether or not we are even aware of it. In this regard, we can define a game as engaging in any life activity directed toward bringing about a certain state of affairs.

Compassion is an infinite game in which the purpose of the game is to continue to play. Collaboration, too, is a game that defies physical laws, where one plus one can equal ten, and the more people that play, the more can win.

We know that some people think that playing games are frivolous and not an activity worthy of something as significant and important as interfaith harmony. The idea of competing to do good – competitive altruism – seems to go against the very idea of being thoughtful and kind toward others.

Yet the original latin root for the word competition is “to strive together,” not, as it is defined today, “to strive against.” Perhaps we need to redefine what we mean by the terms “games”, “play”, “player”, and “competition”. Reframing these ideas may be a key to unlocking the creativity and inspiration that it takes to rise together and reach new heights of radical creativity, cultural maturity, and just, lasting change. The Compassion Games compel and catalyze us to strive together as “players” to change the “games” we play on planet earth to the kinds that make life better for others, ourselves, and the earth.

You may be asking: “Really? What about all the conflict and contradictions in our ways of life?”

There are tremendous differences in our nationalities, cultures, and values, of course. For there to be peace amongst us we will have to coexist in a way that deeply respects our differences and honors our unique histories, cultures, backgrounds and nationalities.

For there to be harmony we will have to learn to interact and create value together. We will find common ground in our cultural differences and we will offer support and help while learning from each other. We will have a shared sense of fulfilling some greater purpose while recognizing that we are interdependent and need each other, now more than ever.

Fortunately for all of us, the case being made that “playing compassionate games with one another from all different backgrounds can radically and creatively change the world” doesn’t have to end here in words, as a spirited and hopeful ideal. Why? Because it just happened! With World Interfaith Harmony Week having just come to a close, the results are in… and what took place is simply astounding.

Who is Leading the Way?

It is interesting to note that King Abdullah II of Jordan, who has been seen recently in the US press as a strong leader taking on ISIS (the Islamic State), was greeted with cheers on returning home early from his trip to the US to conduct swift executions of two terrorist prisoners in retaliation for ISIS killing a Jordanian pilot. The cultural call in Jordan for vengeance was great and the King was in tune with his people. While some international human rights groups may have preferred that there have not been executions, the human rights groups also recognized that the executions were within Jordanian law and important to the people. It is these cultural differences we need to better appreciate and understand. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 2.35.30 PM

For at the same time that King Abdullah II is a “strong man” he is also dedicated to interfaith peace and harmony. Compassion
Games International (CGI) is well aware of this since in partnership with King Abdullah’s office we have just completed a seven day “coopetition” – a collaboration in which we cooperate to compete (or strive) with each other and not against each other by challenging groups from all over the world to show us their compassion in the name of interfaith peace and harmony.

From February 1st through the 7th, the Compassion Games were organized in partnership with the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. King Abdullah II offered a $50,000 prize to be shared by groups working to create interfaith peace and harmony in the world.

This year the partners included the Dalai Lama Fellows as well as the United Religions Initiative (URI). URI hosted an online webinar for the occasion, calling out to over 670 cooperation circles that reach over one million people, inviting them to play.  URI also sponsored two University of Rochester students to attend the United Nations and speak about the Compassion Games. First Nations Solar put out the Solar Challenge for faith and interfaith groups to “Sun-Up” their houses of worship and embark on solarizing campaigns to shift to clean and renewable energy as an act of “green compassion” for Mother Earth.

The players and teams that participated came from all over the world including Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, and the Middle East. In the United States, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council challenged other interfaith councils around the world and posted the greatest number of reports in an impressive display of what is possible when we come together to play, collaborate, and challenge one another to be the very best of our human nature.

Compassion Report Map Reflections from World Interfaith Harmony Week

There were over 30 teams around the world that posted nearly 100 reports to the Compassion Report Map. You can view all the reports by visiting the map here.

Here are four stories, each strikingly different yet equally profound, that are examples of what individual players and teams did during the Interfaith Harmony Week coopetition:

Report #1: Students Meet Muslims for the First Time (View Report)

The University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel student group hosted a tour of the Interfaith Chapel during World Interfaith Harmony Week. For 14 out of 15 of the students, this was the first time they had ever visited a mosque or even spoke to a Muslim. They observed prayer, toured the center, and engaged in dialogue with the Interfaith Chapel youth group. These students had a chance to learn about Islam and to meet and interact with local Muslim youth, opening their eyes to the realities of life for Muslim citizens in this difficult time in our world’s history.

Report #2: Nourish the Soul at the Souper Bowl (View Report)

World Interfaith Harmony Week began on Sunday, February 1st, which happened to be the same day as the Super Bowl. In aCompassion Games Souper Bowl - 2015 creative twist to kick-off Harmony Week and heighten our capacity for interfaith good, the Center for Spiritual Living in Seattle challenged the country in a Souper Bowl as a way to fill the food banks and take care of our neighbors in a time of need. Not surprisingly, the Center for Spiritual Living really stepped up… collecting well over 4,500 cans of soup in one week and raising $1,300 for local causes.

Report #3: 15,000+ People Served by Multifaith Day of Service (View Report)

The Peninsula Multifaith Day of Service dispatched more than 525 volunteers, ages 5 through 85, to a dozen sites through their region to work on 20 different projects. Pacifica Institute, who submitted this report on behalf of the Day of Service, joined the efforts with 30 volunteers of their own who also helped prepare breakfast for the 525+ volunteers. Over 15,000 people were directly affected by the actions of this awe-inspiring interfaith task force.

Report #4: Profound Reflection on Interfaith Harmony at Unity Celebration (View Report)

A report from an individual of the Interfaith Works and Women Transcending Boundaries team inspires us deeply. The report states that a “kaleidoscope” of virtually every faith joined together in unity, song, dance, and prayer, all to express their commonality within diversity. In their midst were refugees from Bosnia and Sudan who had lost everything – their homes, their families – when religious conflict tore their country apart.

From the Compassion Report Map: “When the Sudanese reminded us that churches helped them build new lives, that their history is one with the history of InterFaith Works, I thought, ‘humanity has committed some of its worst crimes in the name of religion, but religion is also capable of giving and restoring life.’ Indeed I have never experienced more compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness in one space…

“[Holding hands] as we sang… I felt myself a member of a new human community, one pregnant with possibilities, possibilities which have always been present in the highest values of our various traditions. This community, bound together not by language, not by race or creed, but by a powerful sense of hope and joy, came away from the WIHW knowing that – when it honors and accepts differences, when it forgives past injustices, but more importantly when it gathers together to celebrate all these things – religion’s long history of strife is transformed into a source of healing for the nations. Indeed, WIHW stands as an event that I dare say the critics of religion cannot pass off ‘as something that just happened’…”

Many Ways to Play and Harmonize

Between CGI and WIHW there were over 800 events and activities that took place during the seven day challenge and there were many different ways to play. These included:

  • An Interfaith Edition of the Secret Agent of Compassion that sent out missions each day of the coopetition.
  • As part of this years harmony week the WIHW produced the first interfaith anthem “The Gift of Love”. The lyrics are by HRH Prince Ghazi and the music and vocals by world renowned recording artist Mr. Sami Yusuf.  http://youtu.be/LHFuyK65Etg

Scoreboard Results from World Interfaith Harmony Week

During the coopetition we maintain a scoreboard so we can see the progress we are collectively making. The point of the game is not to “beat others” but to challenge ourselves to do and be our very best. Over 30 teams around the world submitted nearly 100 reports showing that well over 50,000 people were served through the Compassion Games in this seven day coopetition. This is just what got reported, and most players don’t report. No one will know for sure the impact of all this interfaith kindness and caring that was unleashed, and continues to be unleashed, on our precious world.

However, the experience of coordinating the Compassion Games World Interfaith Harmony Week has reassured us that the wicked problems of our time can be solved by transforming the game of life we play and reinventing what it means to live in peace and harmony together on our beautiful planet.

The Compassion Games are a way for anyone, anywhere, at anytime to amplify existing efforts or mobilize new ones. The Compassion Games infuse the spirit of play, collaboration, and kindness to bring people together of diverse backgrounds to address some of the worlds greatest challenges and most wicked problems.

We invite you to join with us by participating in the Compassion Games. The next coopetition – “Earth Service Week” – will take place from April 18th through April 26th, the same week that U.S. Mayors are challenging each other in the Give-A-Day of service, the brainchild of Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville. The Back-To-School Coopetition takes place in October to bring the profound benefits of compassion to students in educational settings and in their personal lives. The annual global Compassion Games take place from September 11th through the 21st, the International Day of Peace.

Will you play with us? Game on!

Solving Wicked Problems with the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest
A Collaborative Work of the Compassion Games Team
Lead Author: Jon Ramer | Founder & “First Follower”
Contributing Author, Editor: Joey Crotty | Communications and Campaign Organizer
Review by Sande Hart (Head Coach) and Sommer Albertson (Coordinator of the Women/Girls League)
 

Compassion Games Quote

Kites for Peace

November 18th -December 7th  

Fly a kite today for Peace!

Kites for Peace was inspired by the 13,000 kites that children of Gaza flew in 2011 to break a Guiness World Record of simultaneous kite flying. What started out as a creative response to the death of children in Gaza and Israel during the Israel-Hamas war last July 2014 has blossomed into an emerging global action creating spaces for children’s voices to be heard through simple child-inclusive compassion circles in schools and communities. Flying kites is a symbolic action of the innocent voices of children not only in Gaza but in all other communities affected by violence around the world.

The Philippines, facing the implementation of the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is aiming to break the next world record by flying 25,000 kites together with children of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Department of Education, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the leaders of the MILF to unite in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as part of the initial implementation of the peace agreement.

To date, Kites for Peace has so far flown 434 kites in the Philippines, United States, aScreen_Shot_2014-11-17_at_8.39.29_PMnd Zimbabwe. From November 18 – December 7, groups and communities will fly kites not only in the Philippines but in Argentina and Nepal, in support of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in celebration of the anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. More countries have expressed interest in doing the same!

Kites for Peace is in partnership with Mandala Earth Story Project, Binhi ng Kapayapaan Inc. (Seeds of Peace), Anak Mindanao (Children of Mindanao), The Charter for Compassion, Compassion Games International, The Global Network of Religions for Children, and Unify. To know more and to join the project, visit www.peacekites.org.

The Dalai Lama endorses Kites for Peace

Just last week, Kites for Peace founder Sarah Queblatin met with HH the Dalai Lama who enthusiastically supports her work. Sarah’s efforts also promote dialogue led by children- an initiative whose10624640_10152522381743129_1647983746822182420_n time has come. In a letter he states, “I feel if today’s children totally adopt dialogue as a means of resolving problem(s), whether at home or in school, they will grow up to be adults and leaders who will rely on such peaceful means to resolve conflicts at the national or international level. I have no doubt that this will lead to this world becoming a more peaceful one.”

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is celebrated on Universal Children’s Day (20 November) by bringing together secular and faith-based organizations to work to uphold the dignity and rights of all children. Universal Children’s Day, established by the United Nations in 1954, also commemorates the 1989 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The World Day is a day of reflection and a call to action for the well-being of children around the world. Although its activities are highlighted in November, the World Day has grown into movement that has year round influence, weaving together the efforts of faith-based and non-governmental organizations with those of governments around the world.

Here is how to get involved!

Step 1. Fly A Kite

Step 2. Take a photo of yourself and/or others flying a kite or kites

Step 3. Report it on the Compassion Map

Learn more at PeaceKites.Org!

 

Mayor of Compassionville!

dinac

Photo credit: Michael Shumate

We first met Nashville’s Dina Capitani while in Louisville to celebrate their 1 Year Anniversary of becoming a Compassionate City. We were, simply put, in absolute awe of her spirited determination and fierce commitment to prove that Nashville was the most compassionate place on Earth.  We quickly learned not to underestimate Dina’s sweet disposition and gentle spirit; she is on a clear mission to convince everyone around her why the Compassion movement is so critically needed in her town. With her passion, people are listening and taking her vision seriously.

As the Executive Assistant with the Metro Human Relations Commission, Dina identified the Compassion Games as a strategic effort to activate key partners who can work with citizens in hands-on projects to make the community a safer, kinder, more just place to live. Compassion, she recognized, is simply good for the health of a city. This may be the reason that Forbes named Nashville the #2 City of Compassion in the US in 2012.

Championing the Compassion Games in Louisville – or should we say “Compassionville” (Compassionville is Nashville’s team name)(artwork ala artists Mark Eatherly, Massood Taj and Kathy Tupper), Dina led her city to take part in 22 events during the 11 day challenge of the Games. The Compassionville team were #1 this year in “Dollars Raised for Non-Profits,” raising an astonishing $228,876.  (You can see the fundraising project list and descriptions at www.compassionatenashville.org)

Video created by the Scarritt-Bennett Center

Dina says she is committed to changing what it means to compete, and believes that it’s the reporting that makes the Games so important. “It’s part of playing the Game, and how can everyone win if everyone doesn’t play?” She recognizes how important it is to share what has been done in the name of compassion. The reports inform others where, she says, “compassion is alive.” Dina recently told a Nashville community newspaper, “What you focus on expands, so when you focus on the good, it inspires people.”

Ms. Capitani is also quick to credit and give special thanks to Tom Negri, Deb Palmer George, The Metro Human Relations Commission and Mayor Karl Dean for supporting the Compassionate Nashville campaign!

Dina isn’t just a committed and powerful community builder; she is also a talented singer and songwriter. Even so, she was surprised that the song she had written in honor of the compassion went on to become the theme song of the Compassion Games, serving as an anthem for meetings and local events. Dina’s song has clearly captured the spirit, values and essence of the Games! (Rap lyrics written and performed by Bobby Solomon)

Listen to this incredible track below!

It’s clear that Dina is living the Compassion Games in body, mind, and creative spirit!

The Compassion Games Music Challenge

Good music is good medicine. And good medicine is a thing we need more of. That’s why we are so impressed and moved by the gift of this song. We are proud to announce that this catchy and meaningful song is this year’s anthem, and Dina’s inviting all musical compassionistas to collaborate on an album!

 If you’re an artist or a musician, we invite you to create or dedicate a song to compassion. Hip hop, reggae, folk, gospel, whatever the genre, we want to hear it, share it, and spread that musical medicine. Our intent is to compile these pieces as part of a Compassion Games album, and share it with all who strive to live and play compassionately in the world.

 We also want to thank Dina for encouraging us to add an Arts and Culture League in the few weeks leading up the Games. This opened the proverbial gates for the wonderful 6 Degrees of Creativity out of Ohio , the Compassion and Insight Center out of Boise, Idaho, and the other 9 Teams that signed up to play with compassionate so creatively with such short notice.

 We’ve learned that we can always count on Dina to identify what needs to be done in this work. She is a voice of clarity and reason, and is often the first to jump into the fray to make something happen. She’s just getting started with more ideas and contributions to come, that she hinted at with a twinkle in her eye. Until then, enjoy our new song and hold on for what more will come from the brilliant Dina Capitani and Compassionate Nashville.

(Lyrical Excerpt from Dina’s Compassion Games Theme Song)

“Those we used to call our enemies,

instantly,

turn to friends through empathy.

We’ve been playing games for infinity,

now we extend compassionate energy.

We encourage healing in our circle,

turn away from actions that are hurtful.

We can help each other leap hurdles,

and it’s personal, it’s universal.

If you suffer, then we suffer,

we need sisters, we need brothers.

Abundance floods our cupboards

there’s no reason anyone should hunger.

A rope is stronger with multiple strands

so we’re going to advance

and we’re holding hands

showing compassion as our ultimate plan!”

Rap lyrics written and performed by Bobby Solomon

Silicon Valley Interreligious Council and Carry the Vision Bring the Compassion Games to Silicon Valley

We shall be a mighty kindness. – Rumi (and the Carry the Vision conference brochure)

I was invited to introduce and help launch the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest at the Carry the Vision 9th Community in Compassion Conference that took place in Silicon Valley on October 19th 2014.  It was amazing!

Carry the Vision Executive Director, Shelly Swan and her team took great care of me and all the participants who gathered that Sunday to “awaken the heart of compassion” the theme for the day.  This was the perfect opportunity to come together face-to-face after working together “virtually” to produce the 9|11 – 9|21 Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest.  Earlier we wrote this story about the emergence of Compassionate Silicon Valley and their unique approach to organizing; we called it the “spiritual element“.

I had no idea how deep, committed and far along Carry the Vision and the many partners including the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council had progressed in creating a culture of non-violence and compassion in their community.  The conference was diverse, inclusive, and with seventy youth participating in a parallel event.

Unless we change individually, no one is going to change collectively. For generations we have been waiting for the other person to change first. A change of heart cannot be legislated; it must come out of conviction. – Arun Gandhi  (and the Carry the Vision conference brochure)

Girish ShahThere’s a great Compassion Games Team emerging in the valley led by a retired IBM engineer and Recipient of the 2014 Hindu American Foundation Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism, Girish Shah.  Girish is a Director of Carry the Vision, a Director of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council and former president of the Jain Center. He is an innovator and committed to making the world a better place.

We started to work with Girish in the roll up to the 2014 Games and then the October conference. Girish quickly understood the Compassion Games, the Leagues and the idea of Coopetitions and saw their application to the tremendous work he’s already doing to unify the human family.   Girish and his family are an enormous gift to our world.  I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to embarrass him but here’s a summary of what he’s doing to use and expand the Compassion Games:

carrythevisiontwoWith his collaborators on the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, Carry the Vision and the many others he has a tremendous Compassion Games team who no doubt appreciate his humble and focused way of making change happen.   It is an honor to work with Girish Shah and to enable the Compassion Games platform to grow and expand to accommodate his vision.  To the left is the page on the Carry the Vision site that introduces the Compassion Games.

We are enriched by his boundless energy and dedication to nonviolence, spiritual independence, equality, and compassion.

Currency of the Heart: Coins of Compassion in Compassionate Schools

(Above art, “Pocket Change”, and the piece below, are by the amazing group 6 Degrees of Creativity who are making this magnificent art for the Compassion Games.)

Compassionate Schools Network logoThis week marks the beginning of North Thurston County in Washington state Public School District’s participation in the Compassion Games as part of the “Compassionate Schools Movement”, and they aren’t alone. This year, over 50 schools have committed themselves to participating in the Compassion Games as a way to bring compassion and the Golden Rule to schools through the competitive spirit of giving and cooperation.

The demand for the Games in schools, in fact, gave rise to an entirely new Education league! Two exceptional educators have stepped up to coordinate this league; Rhaybin Shein and Lia Mandelbaum. Here’s their presentation, full of ideas, to help schools bring the Compassion Games into their classrooms.  And here’s a link to the presentation they prepared to help educators introduce the compassion games into schools.

In an inspiring feat of creativity for the Games, North Thurston County – led by Compassionate Schools advocate Superintendent Raj Manhas – formed a currency for their district called the “Coins of Compassion.” It is unlike any currency you’ve ever heard of. Over 20,000 of these coins have been given to principals and other leaders within the district, which are then given to anyone who commits an act of kindness or compassion. Paying it forward is the ultimate measure of economic success in a compassionate society. By the end of the Compassion Games, it is not the goal to have the most of these coins, but rather to give and receive them as much as possible. It is, effectively, a game of acknowledging others and their goodness, and in return, also being seen for the good we each give to others. Coins of Compassions are a living economy of the heart and they’re now in the hands of kids who are learning to give and receive them to and from each other.

The Compassion Games will be played during 9/11 to 9/21 in schools, and again in October from the 15th to the 25th at the request of educators seeking more time to prepare in the beginning of the school year.  So, if you were unable to form a team in your school for this year’s September games you can still get in on the fun and learning for October. Sign up here.

The emerging Compassionate School Movement is in large part led by Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation. Compassion Games, Charter for Compassion, and Compassionate Seattle hosted a conference 10626504_707342982667742_3748807769131385059_nin August called “Building the Compassionate Schools Movement: From Sandy Hook to Seattle,” igniting conversation and joint action to bring compassion into schools, to teach emotional wellness and whole person development, teacher and administrator interconnectivity and engagement, and to use compassion to propel student’s success for learning and life.

We are both honored and proud to be a founding member of the Compassionate Schools Network. Today, September 15th, is the launch of this new social collaborative network. The Compassionate Schools Network is a free online community and resource-sharing platform for students, parents, school staff, and community members.

Click here to learn more about the Compassionate Schools Movement and Network, including co-creative ideas for bringing Compassion into the classroom, and how your school can affirm the Charter for Compassion!

Click here for the full press release of the Compassionate Schools Network launch: http://bit.ly/Zn9pFQ