Stories for Harmony Week

These are news posts that pertain to the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: King Abdullah II of Jordan

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each other’s efforts.

Learn more about World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017 at the website.

Visit on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: The Fetzer Institute

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are deeply interdependent and interconnected. What would it be like to live that way—as if our borders (personal and otherwise) extended beyond our body, neighborhood, state, or nation, spilling into each other as a river into the sea? How might we move beyond our self-imposed borders to build and deepen authentic, sustainable connections?

We offer these ideas and invite you to join us in this practice of unity:

  • – Be friendly and get to know people
  • – Consider how you are part of a wider web
  • – Nurture connection through music
  • – Put books of literary fiction on your reading list

Tell/show us how you cultivate unity.

Tag your photos/responses with #compassiongames.

Additional Resources:

With gratitude from the Fetzer Institute!

“Our work is about helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world.

Our goal is to help catalyze and support a broad-scale, spiritually grounded transformation from an ego-centered way of being grounded in separation and fear to an all-centered way of being grounded in oneness and love.

Our vision is a critical mass of people around the world embracing love as the guiding principle and animating force for living in sacred relationship with self, others, and the natural world.”

Visit fetzer.org for more information. Follow Fetzer Institute on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: Standing Rock 7th Generation Runners

The Global Compassion Torch is in the hands of Champions of Hope and Earth Protectors. We welcome the Arrival of Ms. Bobbi Jean Three Legs, Hunkpapa Lakota, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Chris Walton and other youth runners from the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation, and local 7th Generation Runners as they run across the Golden Gate Bridge in the 7th Generation Inaugural Wopida Run and Ceremony today. This is available from the live stream on Compassion Games FB Page.

The Inaugural 7th Generation Global Wopida Ceremony and Run:

Sharing the Spirit of Standing Rock, Protecting and Restoring Mother Earth and Building a Global Fire of Compassion.

A coalition of partners is hosting the Inaugural Global Wopida Run, led by Great Sioux Nation Youth Runners, across the Golden Gate Bridge carrying the Global Compassion Torch of solidarity, hope, and the spirit of Standing Rock to the Great Meadow at Fort Mason on Sunday, February 5th at 12:00 PM.

The 7th Generation Prophecy promised that this generation of Indigenous young people, guided by their Elders, would rise up and inspire other young people of the Human Family to join them in unprecedented, unified, prayerful action to Protect and Restore Mother Earth.

The Dakota people have a special ceremony, Wopida. Wopida is a sacred sharing of gratitude, a connecting with all beings through thanksgiving for all the countless gifts and blessings from the Creator in our lives. Often this includes sharing food and giving gifts of thanksgiving to those who have sacrificed for the upliftment of the People.

The purpose of the Global Wopida Inaugural Run is to be grateful for whatever Life bestows on us, knowing that every test and challenge comes into our lives for our spiritual growth and development to protect and restore Mother Earth.

This spiritual understanding of Wopida requires each of us to live with honor, compassion, love, respect and harmony with all life. The coalition is hosting the 7th Generation Runners in San Francisco during World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Ms. Bobbi Jean Three Legs, Hunkpapa Lakota, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Chris Walton and other youth runners from the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation, will be joined by local 7th Generation Runners from the Four Directions.

The Runners will share their enthusiasm, vision, and words to co-create a just, sustainable and harmonious world by building a global fire of compassionate action to unite the Human Family. We will pass the Global Compassion Torch as part of the Wopida Ceremony taking place on the Great Meadow.

Origins of the Wopida Run

The inspiration for the Inaugural 7th Generation Run began in August of 2016 when the Standing Rock Youth Runners, led by the Ms. Three Legs, ran 2,000 miles to Washington DC and brought national and international attention to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters. Their run broadened the impact of those protecting the waters of the Missouri River against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and raised a global cry: “Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.”

Traditionally, Indigenous Peoples across the Americas ran on foot to carry important messages. The Inaugural Global Wopida Run shares the news that at this time of great global change, the promised time has come for the 7th Generation to arise and inspire all generations to heal and resolve “Standing Rocks” everywhere on Mother Earth. Guided by their elders, the Runners carry the message that we are one Human Family, interrelated with all Life, and share a common destiny. The Hurt of One is the Hurt of All, the Honor of One is the Honor of All.

The coalition of partners include (alphabetical): Compassion Games International, Women & Girls Sector of Charter For CompassionCultural Conservancy, E2K, Fetzer Institute, Four Worlds International, Four Worlds Europe, Pachamama Alliance, Seat of the Soul Institute, Seeding Sovereignty, The Shift Network, Unify, United Religions Initiative, and We The World.

The Goals of the Inaugural 7th Generation Global Wopida Run:

  • * To share the Spirit of Standing Rock and intent of the Global Wopida.
  • * To share the enthusiasm, the prophecy, vision, and words of the 7th Generation to ignite unprecedented, unified, prayerful, and enduring compassionate action to Protect and Restore Mother Earth.
  • * To unite the members of the human family to co-create a just, sustainable and harmonious world.
  • * To ignite a global fire of gratitude, love, and thanksgiving everywhere all at once.

Read this NY Times Featured Magazine article from this week: https://nyti.ms/2jQvPtH

Watch these documentaries about Standing Rock and the Runners on Vice

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: The Ali Center

We just completed an incredible Global Coopetition with Muhammad Ali Center in January called MLK & ALI Games Five Days of Courageous Service.  We are incredibly moved by all the light that is shed on the legacy of the Greatest Muhammad Ali and the constant catalyst this Center is in moving many into action. Mr. Ali’s life and way of being in the world was about love, compassion, and interfaith. We would like to pass the torch of compassion today to the Ali Center. Thank you for lifting the world into courage and sharing the wisdom of Muhammad Ali.

The Ali Center stands tall as a multicultural center with an award-winning museum, the Muhammad Ali Center captures the inspiration derived from the story of Muhammad Ali’s incredible life.  A visit to the Center is not just an experience, but a journey into the heart of a champion. The Ali Center’s two-and-a-half levels of award-winning exhibits and galleries invite visitors to explore Muhammad Ali’s legendary life, as well as to reflect upon one’s own individual values, inner strength, character, and what makes you the greatest person you can be.

Take a breathtaking journey through the Ali Center’s interactive and multimedia exhibits and discover the six core principles that Muhammad Ali embraced throughout his life: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality. Learn how they gave him the wherewithal to be the best athlete he could be, the strength and courage to stand up for what he believed, and the inspiration to reach people around the world and dedicate himself to helping others.

See Generation Ali Youth leaders share Muhammad Ali’s Six Core Principles in this amazing video.

Check out the calendar of the endless inspiring events planned for 2017. 

Follow the Ali Center through Social Media as well below.

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: Festival of Faiths

Today we shine a light on the powerful interfaith center in Louisville, Kentucky and the home of the Annual Festival of Faiths. We proudly pass the Global Compassion Torch on this third day of World Interfaith Harmony Week Coopetition. A nationally acclaimed annual interfaith event of music, poetry, film, art and dialogue with internationally renowned spiritual leaders, thinkers, and practitioners. The festival programming honors the union between thinking globally and acting locally.

The mission of the Festival of Faiths is to promote interfaith understanding, cooperation, and action through exploring how different participating faith traditions address a common issue, topic, or theme. The Festival is organized and supported by the Center for Interfaith Relations.

Recently Mayor Greg Fischer announced that His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama will return to Louisville in April 2017. And to spotlight the significance of the visit, the 22nd annual Festival of Faiths will move to April 19-24 and culminate with talks by the Dalai Lama. The Mayor, joined by 2017 Festival chairman Owsley Brown III, made the announcement during a recent press conference at the George Garvin Brown Garden, 415 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. The title of the 2017 Festival is “Compassion: Shining like the Sun.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama will deliver talks on universal human values and nonviolence at the Yum! Center on Sunday, April 23, and at a large youth event on Monday, April 24. The visit is being planned by several local organizations involved in the city’s compassion initiatives, including the Mayor’s office, the Center for Interfaith Relations, Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, and the newly formed International Center for Compassionate Cities.

Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Fischer has helped champion a city-wide campaign for compassion, including his Give a Day week of service, Compassionate Louisville and the Compassionate Schools Project. He has been a longtime supporter of Louisville’s signature interfaith event, the Festival of Faiths, and worked with the Festival’s Chairman Owsley Brown III, as well as Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Donna Hargens, to launch the Compassionate Schools Project in 2015. The Festival of Faiths is a nationally acclaimed interfaith event of music, poetry, film, art and dialogue with internationally renowned spiritual leaders, thinkers and practitioners. It is designed as a platform for holding conversations on meaning in a time of multiple crises of meaning; and respecting the essential union between thinking globally and acting locally. Theologian Richard Rohr calls the Festival “the Sundance of the Sacred,” and the Huffington Post included it among America’s top 7 spiritual travel destinations.

Share your appreciation and gratitude for The Festival of Faiths on the Global Compassion Report Map with thousands of agents of compassion and hundreds of teams playing World Interfaith Harmony Week, striving together to make peace with #AllFaithsOneLove. Join the action and learn more about this event and how you can participate with these champions of compassion at www.FestivalofFaiths.org .

Watch a featured video from Festival of Faiths Called, Exploration of Sacred Pathways to Non Violence.

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Champion of Compassion Spotlight: The Interfaith Amigos

Interfaith Amigos: Sharing the Wisdom of the Ages

Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon — the Interfaith Amigos — started working together after 9/11. Since then, they have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences all over the U.S., as well as Canada, Israel-Palestine, and Japan.

The Interfaith Amigos present a crucial message in their unique humorous style, helping participants appreciate the promise and the problems of the interfaith experience. Since 9/11 we have had the good fortune to work closely with Rabbi Ted Falcon, Imam Jamal Rahman, and Don Mackenzie who have come to be known as the “Interfaith Amigos”.  They have helped many recognize the pitfalls, while learning and understanding how to engage with people who walk on different faiths and carry different beliefs. Finding the unity in diversity that comes from appreciating different nationalities and cultures is a critical skill of our time.  Through their books, presentations, and workshops the Interfaith Amigos are a cultural treasure offering wisdom and guidance in learning how to bridge this divide.

We are honored to pass the Compassion Torch to the Interfaith Amigos for their leadership and partnership in creating a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Inspiration for Mission #2:

The Interfaith Amigos started working together after 9/11. Since then, they have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences in the US, Canada, Israel-Palestine and Japan. Their first book, Getting to the Heart of Interfaith (Skylight Paths, 2009), brought the Interfaith Amigos international attention with coverage from the New York Times, CBS News, the BBC and various NPR programs. Karen Armstrong calls their “exuberant and courageous” second book, Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith (Skylight Paths, 2011), “an inspiration and example for all of us in these sadly polarized times.”

 

Additional Resources:

Champion of Compassion Spotlight: Sande Hart with The Women and Girls Sector of the Charter for Compassion

We are thrilled to begin the World Interfaith Harmony Week Coopetition today with the Global Compassion Torch in Sande Hart’s hands representing The Charter For Compassion Women And Girls Sector. Sande Hart holds the spirit of interfaith, love, compassion and action around the world. He life has many profound stories in inclusive community. Here is one inspiring story from Sande Hart that shaped her life into being a significant leader of compassion, interfaith, and build community to empower women and girls around the world.

Here is today’s Champion of Interfaith Compassion, Sande Hart with the Torch.

“On the morning of 911 I was shaken to a new understanding of the world. Within minutes of watching the news that morning I heard “Gather Women”. I had no idea what that meant. I did not know where I was suppose to find “the” women, and I had no idea who was whispering in my ear. Although I had no particular realization of my own spirituality, I still said, “yes”.

Months later my rabbi invited me into a living room dialogues and I found them.

I remember being quite intimidated to ask them for our own conversation of only women. I had no education in women’s studies or experience in community gathering, I was just following orders to gather women. When I first opened my mouth and asked, I was met with more immediate and enthusiastic “yeses!”.  

I immediately knew this organization could not be led by one woman but in shared leadership. I started with 2 new friends called her SARAH, the mother of all nations and the acronym Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope worked!  

12 women were invited to our first meeting. I opened my front door, the women stepped in, and the I got out of the way. SARAH showed up on her own terms and in perfect time. Since then, we have a beautifully diverse Advisory Council,  have hosted more than 165 sacred circle gatherings, produced countless community events, panel discussions, we have been featured in Harvard University’s Pluralism Project and University of California Irvine’s Ford Foundation Reports, co-sponsored more programs in collaboration with partner organizations than we can count, mobilized thousands of people out to hundreds of service projects, launched the Compassion Games in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, birthed the Compassionate California initiative before handing it off after it outgrew our arms, and traveled the world representing and presenting SARAH. With more than 650 SARAH Sisters globally, we are arguably the largest women’s interfaith organization in the world. But in my opinion, it’s the small sacred home meetings that have the most impact in our world. This video is a brief introduction of all the compassion and goodness SARAH women bless the world with. AMAZING!!


Learn more about S.A.R.A.H on the website here: www.sarah4hope.org

On January 21st at The Million Womens March in Los Angeles, we hosted a Red Tent. We knew the energy would be high and people would be pounding the pavement, but we also knew there would be so much internal processing and we wanted to provide the same sacred space in the midst of it all as we do in our monthly  meetings in the warmth of one another’s homes.

Inspired by the ancient story of the red tent, we bought miles of red fabric, laid down a carpet, comfy pillows, some electric candles and (of course) chocolate!  We are now also hosting red tents in the LA and OC area and on Monday, Jan 6th will host our first virtual Red Tent; an on-line sacred circle to provide a safe space for our Muslim Sisters to come and be surrounded in love,  compassion and support.”

Sande Hart started the Women & Girls Sector with The Charter For Compassion in 2016 and has started a wild fire and sacred container for women & girls around the world. You can stay informed with this powerful interfaith global community on Facebook, Twitter, and Website too.

The most recent event Champion of Interfaith Compassion, Sande Hart Co Hosted An Urgent Call from the Spirit of the Feminine, with Grandmother Flordemayo. You can learn more about these inspiring calls that are offered every 20 days. Here is a video of the call from last week.

Stay informed on the latest events coming from Sande Hart on the Women & Girls Sector Facebook Page. Thank you Sande Hart for lighting the world with love, joy, and inclusion in Interfaith. Lets celebrate Sande and share this article with the world today. Share your reflections on this World Interfaith Harmony Week Compassion Relay on The Compassion Report Map. 

Learn about the Charter for Compassion World Interfaith Harmony Week Call today with tomorrow’s champion of compassion, The Interfaith Amigos. See the other inspiring calls offered this week & Sign up for the call here. 

 

 

 

The Power of Love and Compassion to Stop the Violence and Start the Healing

Baltimore’s riots this 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.  We seem to have forgotten concepts like fairness and justice as a nation. Without this moral compass to guide us, what’s left?

As video after video surfaces of young black males being brutally treated by police, it makes us wonder if racial discrimination and police brutality can now be tolerated in our society. Empathizing with the police and continuing to ignore the root causes of these problems is all too easy. Mainstream media seems to cater to our worst fears and instincts by amplifying the inexcusable behavior of a few.

From the New York Times:

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, delivering the eulogy of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, spoke of the plight of poor, young black men like Mr. Gray, living “confined to a box” made up of poor education, lack of job opportunities and racial stereotypes — “the box of thinking all black men are thugs and athletes and rappers.”

“He had to have been asking himself: ‘What am I going to do with my life?’” Mr. Bryant said. “He had to feel at age 25 like the walls were closing in on him.”

As his voice rose to a shout, and the cheering congregation rose to its feet, Mr. Bryant said that black people must take control of their lives and force the police and government to change.

“This is not the time for us as a people to be sitting on a corner drinking malt liquor. This is not the time for us to be playing lottery,” he said.

“Get your black self up and change this city,” he said. “I don’t know how you can be black in America and be silent. With everything we’ve been through, ain’t no way in the world you can sit here and be silent in the face of injustice.”

What a powerful call to justice. However, it isn’t just a call to African-Americans. If we see ourselves as one multi-cultural society we need a collective action that will lead to effective change. What is society’s role in providing a way out of the poverty, hopelessness and despair that these young men seem to be stuck in?

The pathway out used to be as simple as getting a good education and hard work that might ultimately earn you a fair shot at the American dream. But with the rise in the cost of education and the lack of decent paying jobs, this no longer seems like a winning strategy.  We need to do better as a society, even if it’s CG16-0015-fish (1)more difficult. We need to relearn how to respect our differences and work together: to address these challenges with effective policies, solutions, and on the ground actions that change lives.

The Power of Compassion and Our Interrelatedness

According to Navajo Medicine Woman Patricia Anne Davis,  “the word ‘compassion’ can best be translated into English using the word ‘proxy’, meaning that another person can experience another person’s experience because we are all related by our inherent divinity given to each person equally. It is an all-inclusive experience where there is unity in the natural order and everyone is interconnected.”

We are interconnected to the youth and to the police. Can we find compassion for the police officers who are upholding the law and for the black youth who have the cards unfairly stacked against them?

The challenges we face are personal and spiritual as well as economic, cultural and political. Compassionate action can build this bridge. The role of compassion is not only vital in our lives, it is a key to understanding the circumstances of every perspective and finding a way forward that is just and can heal the rifts in our communities.

In Detroit, Michigan a team called #MetroDetroit participated in the Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” Coopetition from April 18 through April 26.

We recently wrote a news post about the organizer of the team Reverend Jim Lee of Renaissance Unity Church titled “Love The Hell Out of Metro Detroit: From the Blame – Shame Game to the Compassion Games.

metrodetroit2Lee is “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 forgetting 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.”

Lee believes that his community can revitalize and empower itself by bringing the power of love and compassion to bear on their everyday life. Lee says he wants to “Love our way through the pain. Let’s make the pain the lesson, not the reason.”

The #MetroDetroit team committed to participate in the Love This Place! Story Mapping challenge and set out to identify many of the places in Detroit that they cherish and love. The goal was to heighten appreciation of their physical environment, their sense of social cohesion, and their experience of safety and peace within their neighborhoods.

We are happy to report that team #MetroDetroit posted more photo stories than any other city in the world!  Congratulations #MetroDetroit!  You can see all the story photos here.metrodetroit3

We can learn so much from this remarkable team and their accomplishments. We can come together to make just and lasting change by building cultures of compassion and kindness. There are over 300 cities around the world that have embarked on compassionate city campaigns. As people of this remarkable time – filled with great challenges and surprising opportunities – what do we choose?

The Compassion Games supports communities committed to creating cultures that are safer, kinder, and better places to live. You can find out more here www.compassiongames.org Game on!

 

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.”

 

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