Missions of Compassion: Finding Our Place in the Space Between 2 Stories

For every Compassion Games “coopetition” (i.e. a collaboration in which players cooperate to compete not against, but with each other), a set of “secret missions of compassion” are sent to players to carry the spirit of a coopetitions’ particular theme. These missions are intended to be a unifying thread, a way to tell a greater story to delight, engage, and connect players and teams throughout the world.

Each set of missions begins with a premise – a kind of “pre-mission” – which is then woven throughout the missions that follow. (Additionally, each mission highlights current global events, as well as showcasing inspiring “Champions of Compassion” – people and organizations we wish to recognize and honor.)

Choosing a mission’s premise can be deceptively difficult… too lofty and esoteric, the message of the missions aren’t accessible. Too simplistic and pollyanna, the missions lose their chance to carry a deeper meaning, and the opportunity to engage with something relevant and real. Striking a balance, as it turns out, can be quite a worthy challenge.

With the alarming social, political, cultural and environmental climate of today’s world, we decided we had no choice but to take a risk in order to offer something to our players that was truly worthwhile and unique. We decided to take a complex and emergent design approach, known as “permaculture,” and break down some of its core principles into compelling daily missions.

Permaculture is a contraction of the words “permanent” and “culture.” Permaculture is a system of design, a way of thinking and solving problems, and way to radically reimagine the type of relationship we humans have with the living world around us. Yet, diving into the principles of permaculture is better understood first with a solid foundation. And so the missions opened with a bold premise indeed: that the “Old Story of the World” is no longer working, and what we are left with now is a space, a space between two stories, for a New Story to emerge.

The following is the opening pre-mission for the 2017 Global Unity Games missions:


Agents of Compassion,

We have critical information for you from Compassion HQ

Since the times of first peoples, we human beings have sat in circle together to tell stories. Passed down over the generations, we told stories to delight and entertain our wonder, but also to warn and inform our curiosity. All stories, in one way or another, answered important questions that have captured the human spirit since our beginning:

Who are we?

Why are we here?

And, “Where are we going?

These are really Big Questions, and so our answers to them make up a really Big Story!

Lately, Agents, it may feel like the Big Story of the World has “gone mad” or “turned upside down.” We may feel that we do not like where we are going right now, as things feel more uncertain, confusing, and divisive on Planet Earth.

We begin to ask, “What exactly is going on here?

One possible explanation is that the Old Big Story we once believed in is not taking us where it once promised. The story and its answers are no longer working – or they never worked all that well – and so the story is starting to fall apart.

When a Big Story starts to fall apart, something very interesting happens: a crack appears where it once stood. This crack, although scary at first, is actually the space where a New Big Story about who we are, why we are here, and where we want to go can emerge.

Agents, we find ourselves now in the rare space between two stories.

In this crack, what type of a story do we wish to seed?

What grows here is up to us…


The opening to the missions takes us down a path which naturally leads us to ask… what will the New Story be? What does it look like?

And what is our individual and collective role in creating it?

This is where permaculture enters the picture.

The Permaculture Design Principles as revised by David Holmgren. Many of these were incorporated into the 2017 missions for the Global Unity Games.

As we mentioned, permaculture is a system of design – a way of thinking about and seeing the world and living within it. The central premise of permaculture is that we humans can actually observe and learn how nature provides the conditions for life to exist, and then create unique human systems based on these conditions to create a culture of abundance and permanence.

In other words, permaculture asserts that we must re-learn how to partner with life, as opposed to exploiting life. Why? Because degrading the natural world directly degrades our own lives, which is what the Old Story has done until now. We see the consequences of this “war on life” all around us.

By “mimicking” how the natural world provides the conditions for life to thrive, permaculture design principles allow us to create solutions that include how to grow healthier food, use energy creatively and efficiently, make sustainable shelters, earn a fulfilling living, grow and nourish community, and even share the surplus of our efforts with others.

Each of the twelve missions explores the New and Old Story framework, while guiding “Agents of Compassion” toward new, regenerative answers to old questions.

The missions culminate in a simple message: the path ahead of us on Mother Earth is full of uncertainty and change. What our New Story requires is a model for living in harmony with the world around us and each other, which means we must find ways to provide the resources to fulfill our collective needs. The Old Story offered plenty of ways to satisfy our endless wants, while providing very little for what we actually need to live and sustain good, long, fulfilling and healthy lives.

The space between these two stories is certainly “edgy.” Luckily, in permaculture, an “edge” represents the interaction of two worlds, an opportunity to build bridges between the old and the new. How we choose to respond to change – and not react to it in the same old way – will determine how the emerging New Story of Our World will be written.

What is written into our world’s New Story is up to us… the ink is not dry yet!


Explore the Missions!

Although the missions were sent out during the Global Unity Games, you can revisit them live at any time. Select “Begin Missions” to receive one mission per day for twelve days via email.

Alternatively, you can review all 2017 Global Unity Games Missions here!