Louisville Issues the Compassion Challenge to Other Cities

Others urged to match Louisville | Courier-Journal, May 6, 2012

On Nov. 11, 2011, Louisville, Ky., quietly affirmed the Charter for Compassion, embarking on a10-year campaign to live into this collective promise. The resolution was signed by our 50thmayor in front of the Abraham Lincoln statue on the Ohio River. With malice toward none, withcharity for all, the resolution was a natural fulfillment of Mayor Greg Fischer’s campaign promiseto nurture, tend and grow the garden of community with compassion.

The Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville is a group of engaged citizens working together to bring compassion to the center of community life. Many of you are already working alongsideeach other in this task. We hope to incubate and accelerate these efforts for the common good.Compassion, as you know, is a common ground and a unifying force in our polarized world. Asstated in the Charter for Compassion, “Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate thesuffering of others, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world to put another there.”Compassion, unlike competition, asks us to open our hearts to the world to see that we are allinterconnected and all in this together.

The latest scientific thinking tells us that compassion and cooperation are better markers of evolutionary success than survival of the fittest. It is now “survival of the kindest.” You may notknow it, but the world is beginning to wake up to this understanding of compassion. Vancouver,Winnipeg, Nashville, Houston, Charlotte, Seattle and over 80 cities and localities around theglobe are involved in this movement. Out of all of these participants, on April 5, 2012, the Compassionate Action Network International named Louisville its model compassionate city. This is an honor shared by all of us.  So here’s to us!

In mid-April, the people of our community truly earned this distinction of model compassionatecity. We undertook an unprecedented effort to do the unthinkable in our industrial, competitiveworld — we gave it away. We shared our blood, our time, our clothing, our blankets, our sweatand perhaps even our laughter and our tears. Compassion, unlike capital, only grows when you give it away. So it was a good week as we worked our compassion muscles together. But our work has only just begun.

On the inspiration of the mayor, we now plan to challenge other cities to demonstrate they are more compassionate than Louisville. As Mayor Fischer says, wouldn’t the world be a better place if cities were in competition with each other to show they are more compassionate? So this is our challenge to Vancouver, to Winnipeg, to Nashville, to Houston, to Charlotte, to Seattle and to any other takers: We invite you to the “Compassion Games.” We challenge youto volunteer more, to give more blood, to share more resources and to top our collective markwith the goal of leaving our world a better place. If a city tops us, next year we will step up our devotion because we know that in our garden of compassion, there is still rocky soil and aridplaces that need tending; and there always will be. We are not so naïve as to think this is not acommunity with more than its fair share of pain and suffering. We know it is. We, however, believe compassion is good soil for the garden of community.

Finally, to Greater Louisville, we thank you. We hope you will join the growing Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville. Here is how you do it:

• Like our Facebook page Compassionate Louisvillewww.facebook.com/Compassionate.Louisville

• Personally affirm the Charter for Compassion at our websitewww.louisvilleky.gov/CompassionateCity

• Tell us about your work by joining the “heart map” of compassionate groups that we aredeveloping with the help of the Center for Non-Profit Excellence.• Host a world café discussion about compassion by contactingcompassionatelouisville@gmail.com

• Add your name to our Facebook page list of names who join in this Community Challenge.

• Finally, please make plans now to put thoughts into action during the next Mayor’s Give A Dayweek of service, April 13-21, 2013.


THOMAS M. WILLIAMS, Co-chair Louisville 40202