Charter for Compassion General Newsletter, August 2014

Perhaps a little longer, the fortress of a mother's love can keep Kathe Kollowitz
No matter where in the world we wake up in the morning of late, we are shocked by deplorable and devastating acts that have been perpetrated; in our community, nation or elsewhere in the world, against defenseless and innocent people. Consider:
  • 219 Nigerian schoolgirls, kidnapped by the militant organization, Boko Haram. It has been reported that Boko Haram has killed thousands and abducted hundreds since it came into being in 2009.
  • A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, shot down over Ukraine killing all 295 people aboard. Both the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region deny any responsibility for downing the aircraft.
  • Opposition groups in Syria have been fighting President Bashar al-Assad for more than three years. More than 191,000 people have been killed in the conflict. 
  • Gaza conflict: the cumulative death toll of Palestinians 1,922, of whom 1,407 are believed to be civilians, including 448 children; 297 of the fatalities are undetermined. Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, including three civilians.
  • Michael Brown is dead. Eric Garner is dead. John Crawford is dead. Ezell Ford is dead. Dante Parker is dead. Five black men dead at the hands of the police in the U.S.
  • The Islamic State (ISIS) has emerged as one of the most powerful jihadist movements in modern history. They control 35,000 square miles of territory across two countries, on which they operate advanced US military equipment seized from the Iraqi army.
  • The UN estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced - including tens of thousands of Yazidis.
  • American journalist, James Foley, held hostage in Syria, is beheaded.
  • Right now there are about 51.2 million forcibly displaced people in the world. More than half (53%) came from just three countries: Afghanistan (2.56 million), Syria (2.47 million) and Somalia (1.12 million). Fifty percent of the world's refugees are children.
  • There are over 27 million people held in slavery.
Each person responds to this news and incidents in their own way. Feeling numb, in a daze or helpless isn't constructive. Being livid or just plain angry is not the answer. None of these emotions will stop war, or bring peace or justice. Acting compassionately is the place from where we can begin to work. Read on. This newsletter is a reflective one. Offering some ideas on how we can begin to act differntly in the world.  

 War doesn't work any more

The so-called “advanced” countries can no longer function as “technocratic colonialists” who assume that “our” oil is under the sand of peoples undergoing development in their own unique way—especially if we want terrorism to end.

 Life beyond war, so far from looking like a peaceable kingdom, will require the strengthening of global institutions based upon the reality of interdependence and the potential intensification of conflict over limited resources. This challenge will stretch our creativity and good will to the same limit that war has stretched our destructive powers and capacity to dehumanize adversaries.  Read more.

What we have in common is quite a struggle

[In] a world full of different kinds of beings with different ways of existing, it is inevitable that we will have to work to bridge those differences. This can be seen in the way we come together when we feel most vulnerable – when our fragile lives are threatened. However, it is all too easy, in those situations, to come together amongst those with whom we share little difference – where the work of bridging is not so difficult and the demands made of us are not so, well, demanding. This is especially so when cooperation – working with – is not taken to be inevitable or even desirable, where competition is the norm and it’s every man from himself.

I see this happening now throughout our society, among liberals and conservatives, scientists and religious people, artists, intellectuals, and laborers. I see all around me a reactionary retreat from one another, and it saddens me. It saddens me because I know that, if it continues, we will never be able to solve the problems that face us all, or care for one another. It saddens me because I see the underlying fragility of existence coming increasingly exposed and our fragile lives becoming more vulnerable with every day. Read more.

Collective citizen diplomacy is possible
Consider the possibilities for which all of us are capable. Governments alone will never lead us out of the woods. Only we citizens can breathe life into today's poverty of statesmanship and vacuum of diplomacy. To fulfill our destiny as citizen-diplomats, creators of our shared future, we must expand our activity beyond cursing the darkness and one another, even with very good reasons.

We must broadcast clarion calls to come home to one another. Refusing to be enemies, beneath the headlines, become those who communicate, sustain relationships, stay creative, prepare civil society.

"Love creates trust," one correspondent wrote. Lured to the war of weapons and words, let us be those who turn away and instead give life to public diplomacy and compassion.  (Inspired by the work of our one of our partners, Libby and Len Traubman, Living Room Dialogue Group.)

Carving out peaceful tomorrows
September 6: Healing Conversations To End a Culture of Violence and Intolerance.
Peace starts in our communities. As we approach the 13th Commemoration of 9/11, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows seeks to honor our loved ones who perished on 9/11 by fostering peaceful communities that embrace alternatives to hatred and violence. Toward that end, we will hold a free one day symposium in an effort to impact and empower communities to serve as ambassadors of peace. Keynoting will be Lisa Bloom, civil rights attorney and legal analyst for CNN and CBS news. Raising the consciousness of the public to the threats of guns in our society and promoting cultural awareness through discussion of Islamophobia will be the topics discussed.
Please join us! You must be registered to attend. Free reception to follow. CLICK HERE to register.

Establishing a path to mental wellness

The Center for Compassion, Creativity & Innovation at Western Connecticut State University will host its annual conference on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at Western Connecticut State University’s Midtown Campus in Danbury, CT. The goal of this year’s conference, Compassionate Strategies for Mental Wellness, is to facilitate a discussion about how to find and help others discover a path toward mental wellness. Innovators, educators, community members, caregivers, organizations, researchers, and partners will be brought together to host interactive panels, workshops and sessions on topics spanning from education and veterans to mental illness and art. Join us for a day of stories and experiences as we start the discussion.

To learn more, please visit the Center’s website:

Experiencing a week of compassion activities

The Tenzin Gyatso Institute, The Charter for Compassion, and Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) are delighted to announce "Compassion Week" in San Francisco from November 10 – 16, 2014. The program includes:

November 10-11, Science of Compassion

The second
Science of Compassion academic conference is a gathering of leading experts in the latest research on compassion, altruism, empathy, social connection and service who will discuss their latest scientific findings. The conference will explore the origins of compassion and compassionate action, how compassion can be measured, and how it can be fostered through training.

November 12, 2014: Compassion & Healthcare Conference 

With support from Dignity Health, the fifth largest healthcare provider in the U.S., CCARE is proud to present the inaugural Compassion and Healthcare Conference. The purpose is to support a discussion around recent research and innovative practices implementing programs on compassion in the healthcare sector. Participants will include leading research experts in the field and healthcare leaders who have successfully implemented and fostered compassionate action in healthcare systems including hospitals, hospices and clinics.

Continuing Education (CEs) credits will be available for both the Science of Compassion and Compassion and Healthcare conferences for psychologists, MFTs, social workers for an additional nominal fee.

November 12, 2014: Who Cares? The ECiS Youth Gathering

A gathering for young people aged 13 to 18 with leading scientists.

November 13 – 14, 2014: Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference: Compassion at Work 

During this 3rd Empathy and Compassion in Society conference, world-renowned experts and leaders from neuroscience, education, psychology, technology, health care, education, management and the arts will present the latest research on compassion, tools to cultivate compassion and empathy, and case studies showing how and why these methods can help people in any situation or organization.

November 15, 2014: The Charter for Compassion Day

An all-day conference dedicated to the work of the Charter. Highlights will include new approaches to organizing and sustaining city initiatives, the unveiling of a new community building toolbox for city and partners, and keynote speakers focusing on compassion related to the Charters' sectors (business, education, environment, healthcare, peace, religion/spirituality/interfaith, science and research and the arts).

November 15 – 16, 2014: Living Compassionately Retreat

Lastly, this two-day retreat will allow attendees to learn tools and techniques to cultivate compassion and empathy. The first day will be led by Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., a renowned compassion researcher, clinician and the founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation. Dr. Gilbert developed Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). The second day will be led by Monica Hanson, CCARE Senior Instructor of the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Program. She brings years of experience teaching meditation and has taught compassion to thousands of participants. She has also helped to develop and train new instructors for the Stanford CCT Program.

Learn more and register by clicking here.

We believe a compassionate world is a peaceful world. We believe a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they would wish to be treated - with dignity, equity and respect. We believe all human beings are born with the capacity for compassion, and it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive.

We invite you to help us in promoting the work of the Charter by becoming a Member. Karen Armstrong, asked in April of 2013 for her definition of a compassionate city, replied, “A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn't loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when any group anywhere in the world is marginalized or oppressed. Uncomfortable when as a community we don't treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

Please become a Member of the Charter for Compassion. Step forward to support the compassion movement materially -- with your money, your time, your connections, your special areas of expertise, and your high expectations.

Become a Member of the Charter for Compassion

Credits for the illustrations: top three illustrations in order: Kathe Kollowitz, Peter Keung and Benon Lutaaya.

Benon Lutaaya

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