Stories for Sun Up Our Sanctuaries

These are news posts that pertain to the Sun Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge.

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.

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

An Interfaith Pep Talk to Overcome the Impossible

A Rallying Call for World Interfaith Harmony

It’s well-known that for untold eons, human beings have fought each other in the name of their God or gods. But there is more to this story… As historian and TED Prize Winner Karen Armstrong points out, wars are and have always been political and economic in nature, used to gain land, resources, and power. Why, then, do people tend to blame religion for wars? Armstrong writes that religious ideologies were often reshaped by political and economic needs, and that “religious fervor” – often a unifying cultural and communal force – has been manipulated and used as propaganda to influence citizens to fight for their people, nation, and of course, God or gods.

So religion has become, for many, the source of world trouble, the world’s scapegoat. In other words, spirit has been given a bad rap and many believe we’d be better off without it. As a result, religion and spirituality may be the very last place people expect a beacon of global peace to emerge. And it is for this very reason that it must be the place for a global beacon of peace to emerge.

010b-fishapril14Because at its best, spirituality is anything but economic or political. At the heart of the world’s wisdom traditions lie a message of acceptance, love, and service, the very countercurrent of war and violence. Spirit has been hijacked. It has become the underdog in the story of our time.

However, we too often underestimate the position of power an underdog is in.

Underdogs are scrappy. They are desperate, and willing to do anything to overcome the seemingly impossible. The apparent kl-stargirl02i-fish0814weakness of our position is the very source of our strength. It is this beautiful desperation that is going to compel us to do something unexpected. Something wonderfully crazy. Something brilliant.

Because it has already been ruled out that people of different faiths are capable of coming together to change the tides of the world’s violence and exclusivity to one of peace and unity, we have everything to lose and even more to gain. The world needs interfaith harmony. It longs for it but denies its possibility. That is why it must be done.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is coming up on February 1st and goes until February 7th.

The Purpose of World Interfaith Harmony Week is to…

1. Celebrate and make known the strong undercurrent of interfaith work already happening in the world, and to bring attention to this remarkable work so its positive momentum can continue to inspire and grow;

2. Amplify existing efforts and create new initiatives to further the reach of the interfaith movement, and to raise a broader awareness in the world’s communities that interfaith unity is possible. In addition, we want to ignite a sense of urgency for the need of this movement more now than ever;

3. Encourage faith communities around the world to reach out to their neighbors of different faiths in order to create new relationships of respect, understanding, and collaboration to expand the reach of the interfaith movement throughout the world.

 Do you long to see an unprecedented current of peace, understanding, and collaboration take hold of our world?

Play with us! Join World Interfaith Harmony Week to add your voice, energy, and heart to this movement that has never been more needed.


Learn more about how to get involved in the Interfaith Harmony Week Coopetition here!




Every once in awhile, we hear a story about overcoming hopelessly improbable odds. That next story is going to be us. We can’t play by the old rules of the game. We have to play by our own rules, we have to change them. We have to make the game utterly unrecognizable, unplayable to the ways of ignorance, otherness, and complacency.

Let’s make the game Compassion.
Love Wins!

Compassion Games International
& Our “Partners in Compassion”
17 Compassion Games Partners for Interfaith

Interfaith League Brings Play and Wonder to World Interfaith Harmony Week

“In our broken world it is easy to become overwhelmed with grief and despair culminating in our inability to move forward. Each of us has been given a purpose in life, a reason for being. Each of us carries within a caring heart and a mind filled with ideas.

The Compassion Games beckon us to rise above our heartache and work in community to make a difference in the world…. to laugh and to play and to know within the deepest part of our souls that we are good and contributing to something larger than each of us. In it, we are called to be our best selves.”

The Reverend Dr. Gwynne Guibord 
President, The Guibord Center, Religion Inside Out

What happens when you combine the Interfaith world, comprised of grassroots interfaith organizations large and small, places of worship and interfaith leaders together with the Compassion Games? You get a lot of important work accomplished.

While we often think of interfaith work to mean breakthrough dialogues, educational programs, service to the community and all efforts that we can do better together than apart, the Compassion Games invites one more dynamic. It’s a dynamic that infuses trust and creativity, allowing curiosity to replace hesitancy and fear. It’s a place within ourselves where possibilities spring forth in our hearts in ways that can accomplish the seemingly impossible.

What we speak of is the essence of what it means to

When we play together, we come from a place of joy and wonderment. Play calls us to challenge one another to be the best versions of ourselves and of our faith, doing so in a way that is natural and nonthreatening, inviting, rewarding, and even fun.

After 15 years of interfaith community building – which includes dialogue and panel discussions, programs that honor our commonalities and celebrates our diversity, and especially an annual weekend of community service – I had never experienced more enthusiasm as when we introduced the Compassion Games to our already existing efforts.

We doubled our volunteerism overnight and 5 new faith based organizations joined us in play. People were getting wildly creative with their compassionate action, adding a multitude of smaller projects to get their point values up to push other groups to do the same. It imbued the spirit of competitive altruism, and it was working.  When the local mosque managed to raise more points than the other places of worship by about 2,000 points, they were rejoicing. In a tongue-in-cheek way they asked me, “What do we win?!” I answered, “You get to go to the synagogue next year and help the others beat you!” (This incredible attitude of helping others beat your own team was inspired by Louisville, Kentucky’s Mayor Greg Fischer who had the same answer when his city beat Seattle by a similar margin during the first year of the Compassion Games.)

The Compassion Games utilizes the best of human nature – the innate desire to learn, to play, to be loving and kind, to serve, and to connect with one another. We become inspired to push a little farther, move a little deeper, and reach a little higher as a natural result of working together in community for a common purpose and goal, and in the spirit of play.

Yet the dynamic of play accomplishes more than to provide an environment for the spontaneous arising of awe and wonder. When we are in the natural spirit of playfulness, we forget the false perceptions of separation from others that we so often hold in our thoughts. A great remembering takes place as well, as we remember who we truly are. We reawaken within our own hearts that we are One Human Family. We remember that we need one another to be the best versions of ourselves and the best examples of each of our unique faith and non-faith traditions.

Along the way, a lot of important work gets done. We call it “heavy lifting with a light heart.”

It’s time for us to do it together! 


Compassion Games to Protect and Restore the Sacredness of Mother Earth

by Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., Chairperson, Compassion Games International, Jon Ramer Founder Compassion Games International, Joey Crotty, Writer and Editor

At the root of all social, economic, political, psychological and spiritual ills – both historically and presently – are the false beliefs  that human beings are separate from one another, and that we are separate from our Mother Earth.

plaidDispelling such false beliefs, current scientific research upholds the sacred truth of our interdependence and connectivity.  With work on the human genome now substantially complete, the clear result is, except for a few superficial surface features, that we – the human family – are 99.9% the same.  We are all related!  We are much, much more alike than we are different! Even more surprising to many is just how intimately related we humans are to the mineral, plant and animal people, including even the smallest of our insect relatives. We share the deepest origins to every living being in virtually every dimension of our ever-expanding universe!

Until we fully understand and experience that all members of the human family are intimately related and that our greatest honor, privilege, responsibility, and meaning are revealed when we  compassionately serve, love understand, and respect our own sacredness and the sacredness of all life, there will be no ultimate justice and global peace.

When our hearts fully and compassionately experience the spiritual and physical reality that there is only one race, the human race – 10626504_707342982667742_3748807769131385059_nand that Mother Earth is the common spiritual heritage of all living beings – will we then be able to develop the economic, educational, social and political systems that are life-preserving and life-sustaining. Then and only then will we be able to completely eliminate the growing extremes of wealth and poverty that are  being supported and fueled by the spirit destroying sickness of unbridled materialism and consumerism.  A truly spiritually enlightened and compassionate humanity would never tolerate a world where 80% of our beloved family members live in substandard housing, where 70% of our beloved family members are unable to read and write, where 50% of our beloved family members suffer from malnutrition and survive on less than $2.00 [U.S. dollars] a day,  where only 6% of humanity possesses 60% of the world’s wealth, and where our beloved Mother Earth and her many life forms is on the verge of complete destruction in the name of economic progress and selfish consumption by a small minority of the human family.

During the early years of North American’s “new” ecological consciousness, my grandfather had a conversation with an old friend.  His old friend, whose first language was Dakota, loved to learn new English words. He asked my grandfather to explain to him what the word “ecology” was all about.  “Well” my grandfather said, “you know, Tahanshi, my beloved cousin, we now have these places of education where you can go and learn to read and study books. Then you learn how to write about what you have read about. Finally you learn to talk about what you have learned to read and write about!

This is how many people of today learn about life.  Some people learn this way for many, many years.  After they have read enough books, written about what they have read about and then talk about what they have written about, they are given a piece of paper that says they are a Doctor or a Wise Person of Life.  These Doctors and Wise People of Life then get jobs where they earn a lot of money, so they can read, write, and talk some  more.  They have even have invented machines that can look at things that are very small and make them look big. There are other machines they have invented that can look at things far away and make them look close.

Mother_Earth_by_josephine101They even put different parts of Mother Earth in containers and pour them back and forth so they can find out more about the truth of Mother Earth.  Anyway, Tahanshi, they have spent a lot of time and money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years. From all this work they have made a new discovery.  They found out that everything is interrelated.  They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and pollute the water which all living things drink, you pollute all living things.

What do you think about that, Tahanshi?”

My Grandfather’s old friend smiled knowingly and shook his head.  “I was wondering when they would get around to this understanding of Life!  Just look at what we do to our beloved Mother Earth.  We cut her hair where it should not be cut and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, and then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up.”

This wise elder then looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather, shook his finger and said, “And what would happen if you did that to your mother?  She would die!  And this is exactly what is going to happen to all of us and our future generations, if we do not learn to have compassion, respect and love for all of Life!”

The Golden Rule we know so well, then, is really a derivative of a greater fundamental truth, a truth we can call the “Green Rule.” It doesn’t just apply to how we treat one another, but how we treat our Mother Earth! The Green Rule states, “Do unto Mother Earth as you would have it do unto you.”

The benefits of compassion for Mother Earth reaches far beyond our individual selves to all living beings! To forget this is to try to cure a sick child when the water the little one drinks and the air the little one breaths has been poisoned. We cannot get behind the cause of the problems we face in this critical moment of history without the realization that this poison is our beliefs – beliefs of separation from one another and Nature – which lead to our ways of being in the world. This current way of being withholds us from engaging authentically with one another and celebrating the vast array of life that we each are an integral part of!

The Compassion Games and the Birth of the “First Nations League” and the Nawtsamaat Alliance

nawtsamaat aliianceThe Compassion Games make our communities safer, kinder, more just and better places to live.  The ultimate “Compassion Game” is unprecedented, unified, compassionate action to “Protect and Restore the Sacredness of all Life!”

In the 2014 Compassion Games we unveiled the First Nations League, with the Nawtsamaat Alliance being the first official team to participate. Indigenous Leader Sundance Chief Rueben George and I called for the birth of this Salish Sea alliance to unify and come together to protect the Salish Sea.

The Nawtsamaat Alliance – located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest around the Salish Sea – formed and joined the Compassion Games in a time when our beautiful region is presently under attack from a fossil fuel industry looking to  expand exponentially the volume and transportation of fossil fuels through our lands and waters. These expansions seriously jeopardize further the health and well-being of the land, water, and communities in the region who lovingly call the Salish Sea home.

Led by the Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples, the Nawtsamaat Alliance is made up of Native and Non-Native community members who are coming together and calling for “Unprecedented Unified Action” to protect our home. This is a story about Indigenous leadership utilizing Compassion Games to strengthen how all members of the Human Family can come together to care for our Mother Earth!

Nawtsamaat is a Coast Salish word that can translate to, “One House. One Heart. One Prayer. United in Power to Protect the Sacred!”

The Compassion Games can literally help us “change the game” and ignite a community to move to the positive with a new approach to organizing and working together. And it is working!

The 4 Days of Action to Protect the Salish Sea

During the 2014 Compassion Games, the Nawtsamaat Alliance (NA) organized its inaugural launch and blessing at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, followed by the 4 Days of Action Campaign to Protect the Sacredness of the Salish Sea.

The 4 Days of Action connected and supported many people and organizations for a variety of events aimed to raise awareness of fossil fuel threats in the Salish Sea, and to build unity across the region. The 4 Days of Action also stood in solidarity with the People’s Climate March. Alliance members,, Rising Tide, and the Georgia Strait Alliance hosted the International Rally to Protect the Salish Sea, a cross-border rally at Peace Arch Park the day before the historic Climate March took place around the world. Indigenous peoples lead the People’s Climate March in New York City, where over 311,000 people gathered in the largest march on climate in history.

Over 2,600 rallies took place in more than 160 countries. See the Report Back video on the People’s Climate March here.

Out of this global movement and inspiring display of love for our Mother Earth, the Compassion Games 10 Year Solar Challenge was born!

Sun-Up! The Compassion Games 10 Year Solar Challenge

sunupchurches-detail2The Compassion Games 10 Year Solar Challenge was proposed in order to “Sun-Up!” our communities as we “Warrior-Up!” to protect Mother Earth. The Solar Challenge will help inspire and move us all toward 100% clean renewable energy – for all purposes and for all people – starting with the Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries campaign in 2015. Each year a campaign and “coopetition” will be revealed to solarize a different part of our society. When communities mobilize together in this way, the price of solar becomes even less expensive through bulk-purchases than it is already becoming in the global market.

If you are interested in learning more or want to participate in this incredible opportunity, we warmly encourage you to do so here!

Looking Forward with Hope: Earth Week and Future Coopetitions with Indigenous Peoples and their Allies

As we build toward the Global Compassion Games in September of 2015, there are an inspiring lineup of coopetitions happening around the world.  In February, World Interfaith Harmony Week is taking place, a major event for the United Nations. In April, Earth Week will happen in celebration of Earth Day (although every day is Mother Earth Day!) The First Nations League will participate in Earth Week, encouraging many other First Nations and Indigenous peoples and their allies to form and participate.

In support of Earth Week, the Nawtsamaat Alliance will be launching the “Love This Place” campaign, to move and inspire all peoples who live in the beautiful Salish Sea bioregion to make a pledge of solidarity to protect what they love; their land, waters, fellow human beings and all living beings. As the International Treaty to Protect the Salish Sea was first signed by Tsleil-Waututh Nation and their allies in the culmination of the 4 Days of Action, a Salish Sea tour will also take place during “Love This Place”, inviting and encouraging other allies to sign and uphold the International Treaty in pledges of support!

A Love for Our Mother is a Love for All

As a human species, we are remembering what it is like to have an ecological and spiritual literacy that serves and deeply connects us all, with all living creatures of Mother Earth. Indigenous relatives around the world are offering this wisdom in peace and unity. Yet for such a remembering and re-learning to happen, we have to have the hope to act toward it, and to believe it is possible! We must unify to develop a way to get there, and do it in accordance with what calls to the deepest aspects of our spirits and our hearts: the need for meaning and purpose, for love and for wholeness, for community and justice and peace. The greatest vision of all for such a world is one where all living beings can thrive on a planet that is looked after compassionately… for when she is loved and cared for, all living beings shall feel the same.

Starting from Within, Working in a Circle, in a Sacred Manner, We Heal and Develop Ourselves, Each Other, and the World.



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.

Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries! The Compassion Games Solar Challenge

A truly unfathomable amount of energy showers down on us freely at every moment of our lives, granting life to you, me, and every living creature on this planet. The giving star, our Sun, is not just the symbol of hope, light, and spirit in every world religion. It is – in the face of our addiction to fossil fuels – our most promising path toward a just and sustainable future for ourselves and our children.

If all flora on Earth can harness this essential cosmological power source, then why can’t we humans seem to do it? Plants are, after all, biological ancestors to humans. As it turns out, we can harness the power of the sun, and we can do it pretty well considering we weren’t given the gift of photosynthesis at birth!

Right now, solar technology has never been so efficient, inexpensive, and accessible to our society. That’s why now is the perfect time to let our values be our guide and change our energy direction for good: to demonstrate the moral imperative by having compassion for our Mother Earth and inspiring us to bring clean, solar energy to sacred spaces, our places of worship! Here’s how.

Announcing the Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge!

A new community challenge has emerged during this years Compassion Games. Silicon Valley, Santa Monica, and Seattle have just initiated the “Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge”, committing to each other and inviting places around the world to take on the challenge to bring renewable solar energy to their places of worship by next year’s Compassion Games.

Every house of worship, anywhere on earth, from every faith is welcome to play!

Here’s how the Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge works:

  1. Cities, towns, and communities from around the world will commit to collaborate to bring solar energy to their places of worship, to set an unprecedented example of how people can co-create positive change in their local communities for a sustainable future.
  2. With the cost of solar energy dropping, these installations are increasingly becoming affordable for communities willing to make an investment into solar.
  3. Compassion Games International will help teams work with their local faith and interfaith sanctuaries and provide resources to help them work with solar vendors and get the very best prices for their houses of worship.
  4. When a group of houses of worship commit, the cost of solar for that community will decrease from the benefit of a bulk purchase. This is a collective venture; the more collaboration that takes place between all faiths and congregations, the better the outcome will be, and the brighter the light will shine! It is therefore a way to build bridges between people of all spiritual paths as we Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries.

The goal of this challenge – starting with Santa Monica, Seattle, or Silicon Valley – is for each place to bring solar energy to 20% of sanctuaries and places of worship in each respective area. For example, Seattle has 600 congregations of all faiths in its city’s limits. This means 120 of the sanctuaries in Seattle must commit and work together to bring solar to their sanctuaries!

By next year’s Compassion Games, starting on September 11th, 2015, a place of worship will qualify if they a) Have begun installing or have already installed solar energy, or b) Have contracted a solar company to begin installation before year end.

Are you interested in organizing a team to participate in the Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge?  If so, email Jon Ramer at!

It’s time – in the dawn of this new era of clean energy – to make like a tree and “leaf” fossil fuel energy in the ground where it belongs!

The Sun-Up Our Sanctuaries Solar Challenge has begun! Game on!