Stories for Faith and Interfaith

These are news posts that pertain to bringing The Games into spiritual communities.

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!

 

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.”

 

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

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.

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

or…

SignUp


 

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

3.7 Million March: An Urgent Call to Rally for Unity & Peace

Dear Friends and Allies of Compassion,

The world is stirring. Every now and then an event occurs that shocks us, and with it appears an opening for something new to Paris Ralliesemerge. Right now, we are at such a moment. The 3.7 million people who marched in the streets of France – who locked arms with our world’s
leaders – are what French officials are saying was the largest street demonstration in the country’s history. And they weren’t protesting the attacks they were rallying for unity.

“I’m fed up with all the hatred in the world. I can’t stand people hating each other. More than just free expression, I want people to live together and to accept each other, even if they are different,” said Edith Gaudin, a teacher in Paris.

More than ever we need to create and live in cultures of compassion that revolutionoftheheart7-fish0212take us outside our comfort zones, into our stretch zones, and allow us to experience empathy and compassion directly. In fact, this is what the Compassion Games were created for, and it just so happens that this year the Compassion Games is partnering with UN sponsored World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) (February 1st -7th).

One of the world leaders who marched on the streets in Paris is King Abdullah II from Jordan. In 2010, the King proposed a World Interfaith Harmony Week to the UN, a week “when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are.” The UN unanimously approved, and now each year the first week of February is aimed to promote harmony and collaboration between people of all faiths (and none).

kl-stargirl01a-fish0814We are partnering with faith, interfaith and Indigenous leaders to light a spark of creativity and innovation, to inspire groups around the world to get engaged and to make the good we are capable of known. This includes a seven day Compassion Games “coopetition” starting February 1st, a 10-Year Solar Challenge called for by First Nations, and $50,000 in prize money sponsored by King Abdullah II.

Let’s not retreat from this moment. Let’s lean forward, open our hearts and hands and come together in unprecedented, unified solidarity and action!

 

1. Learn more about the World Interfaith Harmony
Week Coopetition here

2. Read more about the WIHW Prize Monies for participating groups here

3. Spread the word! Share this story to challenge family, friends, and your communities to play in World Interfaith Harmony Week. Experience the joy of building solidarity, cooperation, and bridges of peace and harmony!

At this unique moment in time we need to clarify and reaffirm religion’s role in our lives as a beacon of hope. Religion at its best is kl-stargirl02i-fish0814a hearth for the human spirit. In its myriad of expressions, religion can help us connect with something greater than ourselves, to encourage us to reach out and to get to know the “others” in our lives. It inspires us to serve all people for the greater good that exists within and among all of us, to find love and compassion in the seemingly most improbable places, in places where once there was only hate. Yet these are the places most desperate for peace.

Let us be that peace.

In Fierce Unity and Compassion,

Compassion Games International
World Interfaith Harmony Week
URI (United Religions Initiative)
The Guibord Center
Interfaith Youth Core
Dalai Lama Fellows
Compassionate Seattle
NICO (Northwest Interfaith Community Outreach)
Silicon Valley Interreligious Council
Four Worlds International Institute
Compassionate California
I am Jerusalem
S.A.R.A.H. (Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope)
Scarboro Missions
First Nations Solar
Interfaith Council of Central Orange County

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
www.theguibordcenter.org
 

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 play.world-religions3

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! 

JOIN US HERE

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.

Compassionate Silicon Valley: The Heart of Innovation and the “Spiritual Element”

Silicon Valley is known as a hotbed of innovation. A fiercely competitive environment, it is a place in which discovering and promoting the next big thing is everything. Could it be that “compassion in action” is the next big thing?

As it turns out, one of the most inspiring and effective teams in the 2014 Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest is Compassionate Silicon Valley. To participate in this global “co-opetition” they have amassed a team that includes more than 20 affiliated organizations that have challenged each other to work and play cooperatively. The list includes:

  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
  • Brahma Kumari World Spiritual Organization
  • Campbell United Methodist Church
  • Carry the Vision
  • Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale
  • Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
  • Council of Churches of Santa Clara County
  • First Unitarian Church of San Jose
  • Global Ministries University
  • Gnostic Sanctuary/Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum
  • Hindu American Foundation
  • Interfaith Council for Economics & Justice
  • Interfaith Space
  • Jain Center of Northern California
  • Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
  • Northern CA Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess
  • Pacifica Institute BAY CC
  • San Jose Friends Meeting
  • San Jose Stake
  • Sikh Gurdwara-San Jose
  • South Bay Islamic Association
  • Temple Emanu-El Congregation
  • Tzu Chi Foundation
  • Universal Church of the Master
  • Working Partnerships, USA

In all the years of the Compassion Games, we have never seen such an innovative, highly developed level of cultural-maturity and competitive altruism at play!  This is unprecedented… clearly they are up to something, and this something could be really good for all of us!

What we suspect is that they are developing and implementing a “spiritual core” for their highly diverse team to ensure that the functionality and applications of Compassionate Silicon Valley are built on an innovative next-generation platform. It suggests that they are taking a Human Kind / Kind Human 2.0 approach to living, working, and playing together.

Could this prototype of a “spiritual element” be an extension of the “secure element” recently patented by Apple and that is now at the heart of Apple Pay?  It’s the logical next step beyond “payments” – giving freely with no expectation of anything in return.

Putting pluralistic spiritual and non-spiritual values at the core of their team and its applications to ensure balance, harmony, peace and empathy amongst all the players. It could be a brilliant strategic move that takes Compassionate Silicon Valley right to the lead in the Compassion Games, and continues the tradition of having the valley be a leading hub for fresh, novel, and inventive development.

James and a Friend

Dr. James Doty and Unnamed Friend

We checked in on Dr. James Doty M.D. and Founder of CCARE (Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University who is right in the heart of Silicon Valley and it’s environs.  We are wondering whether he thinks such a “spiritual element” is a technically feasible and viable approach to building high performance teams and applications capable of implementing cultures of compassion in communities around the world; Dr. Doty says:

“As a species, humans are finely attuned to the emotional states of others. The survival of our species, literally from birth, is one in which others of our species intervene, support and care when they sense we are in need, in pain or are suffering. It is our default mode. And it is when we demonstrate this reality that our physiology functions at its best and it is also when we are most happy. It is what allows each of us to thrive and is what gives meaning and purpose. Fundamentally, this defines compassion and its power for the giver and the receiver.”

“In Silicon Valley,” he says, “there is for many a sense of anxiety, isolation and loneliness. Compassionate Silicon Valley has created a platform that includes many spiritual and faiths traditions offering a place of safety, security and fellowship ultimately creating a sense of trust and unconditional acceptance that is so critical for authentic social connection.”

“I have no question the power of this effort.”

Speculation has begun about this new heart-based “start-up” on a quest to find a repeatable and scalable way to bring compassion culture to the masses. The new venture Compassionate Silicon Valley is being led by Girish Shah, a spiritually-gifted technical wizard.

Take a look at the instructions they have published for participating in the 2014 Compassion Games:silicon-valley-page 2A

 

 

 

 

silicon-valley-page1BWe can expect great applications of compassion in action from Compassionate Silicon Valley as they build upon the diverse and powerful Human Kind / Kind Human 2.0 platform they are developing.  We will all just have to upgrade our collective capacity to do good in order to keep up with this novel approach to playing and winning the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest!!

Skeptical that compassion in business could work? Listen to Simon Sinek speak about why a true leader creates an environment of trust that makes people feel unquestionably safe, and you might change your mind. Or better yet, your heart.

Looking for compassionate solutions to gun violence

Submitted by What’s Good 206

Why should you care about gun violence?

“It has no race, no creed, no age barriers. If it hasn’t affected you yet, it will if it continues.”

Stark words from one man interviewed in this array of community voices recorded at an anti-gun violence rally at Seattle’s Martin Luther King Memorial Park.

“It needs to be talked about among your family and friends,” says a police officer.

“We have to work to get the community out to say we’ve had enough of the gun violence and to mentor young men and older men and women on how to go through the healing process of having a son been a perpetrator and wrap our arms around them and say there’s healing,” says a pastor.

Listen closely. What you are hearing are solutions.

 

What’s Good 206 is Seattle’s source for youth driven media and information.