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Legacy and Love. A Peach of a Prince.

The artist and musical genius, Prince, passed away today at the age of 57. I can still see my freshman dorm room with the purple rain poster on the wall. 

My high school years were defined by the music of Prince. I know every lyric to every song on 1999.  Unlike many of the artists I was enamored with as a teen and young adult, Prince stood the test of time. He continued to practice, refine, push boundaries and redefine his craft as all true geniuses are prone to do.

On the one hand, I am immensely touched by his untimely death. While I tire of hearing the news of icons of my generation passing on to whatever is after the terminal condition we call living, I appreciate the reminder.

The death of heroes, icons and historic personalities remind us that our lives are not in vain. Their impact is obvious by the very fact that so many notice and are touched by the loss of that single soul on a planet of billions.

Most of us will pass away without a hashtag or news compilation of our major life events. No one will count our major awards, critique our creative works or chronicle the ways we influenced a generation. Yet, it will still be true that we left behind a legacy.

Who could blame you for thinking that given Prince's fame, genius and cultural influence, your legacy will never be as great? I h

What if your taking a moment to smile at someone who had lost all hope prevents a single suicide. And that person has a child that would otherwise not be born

How many lives you do touch with kindness, patience, listening, respect, service, understanding and gratitude? Who in your community is living a brightened existence because of you?

An Atmosphere of Compassion

When something wonderful is the air, I think of the fine fragrance, not the air it rode in on. Same blame with a noxious or nauseating odor.  My recognition of air is mostly limited to an infrequent foray into deep breathing techniques or, even less often, the threat of its absence after overexertion.  We’re bottom dwellers in an atmospheric sea, as aware of air as fish of water.

 

Love and air have a lot in common. Air is to our physical bodies as love is to our emotional and spiritual bodies.  In love’s extended absence, our souls can shrivel. Sun, wind and earth interact to regenerate the nitrogen, oxygen and other compounds we depend on to breathe. When it comes to generating a sea of love in which humanity can swim, we as a collection of individuals interacting with one another are the regenerators of love.

 

Yesterday, a close friend was mugged and beaten. Actions like this suck out love the way fire sucks out oxygen. Afterwards, as he struggled to make his way, bloodied, bruised and minus his wallet, keys and phone, a couple offered him a ride to his home. There were three young men who participated in the mugging. I suspect the couple saw some part of the attack and felt helpless to intervene. Yet, they took it upon themselves to make a difference at their first opportunity to do so safely. I am personally grateful to them. Such an act of compassion following an act of brutality is how we regenerate love when negative aspects of humanity consume it.

 

They were the first of many human beings to bring love, care and nurture to my friend. Love in the form of kindness, nurturance and generosity from family, friends and healthcare staff is as important to his healing as ice and aspirin. We are the powerhouses that fuel the psychic, emotional and spiritual atmosphere in which humanity dwells.

 

A planet without trees, without sun, without a system to recycle carbon dioxide into the air we breathe, is a planet on which we cannot survive. A planet without love, kindness and actions of compassion is a planet on which survival becomes void of meaning or joy.

Martin Luther King, Jr on Police Brutality

The wonderful of internet surfing. While working on a blog post that included a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., I found myself learning about a man named Archibald Carey and then re-reading King's I Have a Dream Speech.

In the middle, I discovered this timely quote:
"There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality."

I have a dream that one day we will be satisfied, ask Martin Luther King, Jr. described with his Biblical reference, when "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." 

Remembrance

Yesterday was about facing facts. The reality is that, while I play compassion games on my own and at school with the students on my high school campus, I am not doing much else to manifest the vision I was given of their possibility.

I haven't reached out to any significant organizations, nor have I completed the crowdfunding campaign that is all but a video away from launch. Yesterday was the day I said, "Maybe it's time to call it done. Walk away. Move on. Create what's next." I promised myself and a few friends that I would make a choice I could commit to by Wednesday.

When I walked onto campus this morning, one of the teachers stopped me, concerned. "You look dazed." I felt dazed, tired and overwhelmed and lacking the strength to hide it. I was struggling with the possibility of saying goodbye to the Every Day Compassion Project if I wasn't going to really get under it and have it make a difference.

Just an hour or so after my colleague's observation, I learned that a former student, J'Sean, was in the hospital. This formerly loud, ever-out-of-class clown transformed into a giant of compassion, a philosopher and role model in the two years I knew him. He'd discovered both Christianity and boxing alongside his ever expanding curiosity for truth, ideas and what it takes to make the world a better place. He was s star  I knew would shine bright.

I visited him this afternoon. Although this is hearsay and should not be taken as fact, it seems he was in an altercation and took a blow that knocked him backwards, straight down with his head hitting the concrete. He is now in a medically-induced coma. His sister and family reminded me at all times that they are confident he will recover from the coma and become a legendary tale of triumph over circumstance.

Seeing him sitting upright in the hospital bed, tube in his mouth, his brain exposed partly on one side to alleviate swelling touched me deeply. Holding his hand, I assured him of my prayers and of my love for his spirit.

His sister and I exchanged a few loving laughs at his irrepressible humor and indefatigable ability to argue a point from any number of angles. About 50 yards from the hospital exit, I sat on a bench and cried.

I thought about the new fight this beautiful black male spirit was now in. He's fighting for his life. The probability of brain damage will bring on a new fight to regain any impaired memories or abilities.

I felt I could hear him saying, "You're not giving up." I left my doubts about continuing the Every Day Compassion Project  on the bench along with my tears.

Neither of us are giving up!

Every Day Compassion Project. Day 6. Pray for a world at peace.

I attended the funeral of Bill Dalo this afternoon. He was a fun-spirited musician and creative genius. He embodied love of everyone with an authentic curiosity for their story. The amount of love expressed for this man was an inspiring reminder of our power to touch and heal lives.

Praying for a wold at peace was a perfect way to close the day.

Every Day Compassion Project. Day 5. Share a Story of Compassion

Every Day Compassion Project. Day 4. Better your Community

Today's act of compassion was an easy one. I invited friends and family to play one of the Every Day Compassion games to make the world a better place. :)

iTunes
Google Play

Day 3 Curb Consumption

It's curb your consumption day. Consistent with the theme, I didn't go shopping for anything today. I spent the day talking with friends, walking my dog in the park, soaking in the sun and enjoying a light meal.

 


A stiff chai tea dampened my appetite. Consumed three-fifths of my quesadilla, saving the rest for a snack tomorrow.

 


Compassion for the planet is great for my figure.

 

Day 3
Curb consumption.
Every Day Compassion Project

I'm also using project 365 to capture my year of compassion with a photo a day.

Day 2. Loved the Walk

Instead of doing the usual, driving to drop off a Redbox rental at a store one and a half miles away, I walked. It’s Day 2 of my year of Every Day Compassion and I am already appreciating the benefits.

 

The exercise and calorie loss is an obvious benefit. Then there’s saving energy, compassion for the planet. The surprise reward was the opportunity to connect with the folks I saw along the way.

 

Half a mile into the walk I passed a painter. Three miles later, passing him on the return home, he gave me a glance. It was such a friendly acknowledgement. We’d barely nodded as I walked to my destination. In less than an hour there was a moment of recognition that while not significant in the usual sense, buoyed my spirit. He appreciated my lightness about it all. I think he likewise saw in my eye the appreciation for his work ethic.

 

There weren’t any words. And how I describe it here is just my rendering of the moment. I'm glad I took the walk instead of the drive.

 

 

Every Day Compassion. Day 2.

Click to close


 

Every Day Compassion Project. Day 1. Collect Change for Charity.

I'm starting off one year of daily of compassionate action with one month of collecting my change to donate to the nonprofit Oceana. While Every Day Compassion Project is itself a nonprofit, I started down the path of encouraging charity because of my personal charitable interests.

I love whales. I have no rational explanation or justification to offer you. There was no magical moment on the ocean when a breathtaking whale showed itself and locked eyes with mine.

Something about them inspires the cliche adjective "majestic." They are huge, powerful, inspiring. Graceful, loving and protective also apply. The species referred to as killer whales, the orcas, are only a threat to humans when kept enclosed and forced to work for extended periods of time. Since they are not human, we do not call it slavery. We call it a market opportunity and educational. And no, there is no sub species called "killer human." All of us share that possibility. Fortunately for us, when things get crazy, we can take our chances through migration.

The oceans are the only home for whales. They can't migrate to the mountains to eat goat if something happens to the fish supply. They can't come on shore for a few days while governments test naval equipment to protect their sonar capabilities.

I'm an educator and, awesome Seinfeld episode aside, boarding a ship to personally confront illegal whaling ships is not in my future. What I will have is a donation to give to the professionals committed to maintaining the home in which whales live.

Today: $1.70

Happy Leap Second Day

Today you have one extra second. Scientists add this to even out our days in the same way leap year keeps our monthly calendar matching nature's rhythm. That means you have an extra second to enjoy today's one-to-one conversation, today's Every Day Compassion action.

For me today's extra second will be an extra moment to listen to my partner talk about whatever he wants to share. He lost his best friend a couple days ago. A freak accident. He won't get a medal, but he died a hero. Something happened while he was flying and he managed to fly low enough, long enough to allow his sole passenger to leap to safety. We don't know for sure, but that seems to be what happened according to the surviving passenger.

Tomorrow I take on a year long practice of daily compassion. It's moments like this that remind me why I make it an out loud practice. I know that it is this practice that keeps me from needing my partner from experiencing his tragedy in some particular way. I have the privilege of a practice of active listening.

He's human and so am I. Sometimes he says something that I want to correct, address or "help" with. Like when he told me that a reporter came onto widow's property requesting information and perhaps an interview. Boy, was my guy ticked off. Understandably. This is one of his closest friends. When he told me this I held my tongue. I, always the understanding devil's advocate, wanted to blurt out "You can't be surprised. That's their job. Haven't you noticed how often we watch the news and see someone close to the family on camera?" That's what I bit my tongue to keep silent.

Then, a while later, "You know, someone could type up a little statement to give to any reporters. And maybe post something on Facebook so they know..."

His response. "Yeah. You're right. That'd be a good thing to do." As sound as it was to suggest, I could hear that he wasn't interested in advice in that moment.  I'd done so well for a good twenty minutes.

Later in the conversation when I asked what I could do to help he explained that my listening was the biggest help. He was helping the family in making all the arrangements that are required in our modern world when a life stops. "Being able to call you and be heard settles me down and builds me up so I can support them."

Compassion is an awesome practice. Whatever day you're reading this, know that you can join the Every Day Compassion Project anytime. Download our app from Google Play or iTunes.

You'll be greatly missed, Bill Dalo!

Compassion has the Power to Save Lives

I'm not proud of this, but the other day I was really, really ticked off by a driver who cut in front of me in defiance of the basic laws of physics that two material objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. I let my horn speak for me. In all honesty, there had been, moments earlier, an opportunity to just let the guy in.  I was more concerned about being right than being courteous.

I just read an article about a 6-year-old heart patient who was killed because of a minor traffic irritation. Marcus Johnson, Jr. was diagnosed with a heart condition as an infant. On March 11, 2015, a week after heart surgery, he was shot on the way home from time outdoors at a local St. Louis park. The current explanation is that a driver was upset that young Marcus' father talked to a friend in traffic.

 

Perhaps Marcus senior waved off the driver or told him "hold on a minute." Or maybe there was nothing said or done to the driver other than his being inconvenienced. Whatever the details, a driver shot into a car and killed a 6-year-old. The father, also carrying a gun, shot back into the other car. Compassion, understanding, level-headedness and peace were nowhere around as two drivers exchanged gunfire fully aware that there were young children in the crosshairs.

This image provided by Marcus Johnson Sr. shows Marcus Johnson Jr.'s funeral pamphlet. Marcus Johnson Jr.’s parents figured a sunny day at a city park was just what the 6-year-old kindergartner needed while recovering from heart surgery the previous week and a doctor’s visit that same day. Instead, his family will bury Marcus on Thursday, March 19, 2015, after the child was shot in the chest and killed in an attack his mother and father said stemmed from a traffic dispute.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/6-year-old-heart-patients-shooting-death-rattles-st-louis/ar-BBipSIb?ocid=HPCDHP

 

There is so much edginess, urgency and indignation in our everyday experience. Smiles, hugs and graciousness seem like small actions, even meaningless. It may seem outrageous to state that lives hang in the balance in our moment-by-moment choices to be compassionate or not, but we have no idea how the actions or inaction play out down the road.

 

The driver that I honked at was irritated and sped off in a huff. How did that impact her conversations wherever she went? I could just as easily have let the driver in. It would have cost me nothing and changed how both of us went into the rest of our day.

 

Whether or not you practice Every Day Compassion, practice everyday compassion.

Day 4. Use Words Intentionally.

Today’s act of compassion is being mindful of our impact on the world.  Use words intentionally. It’s not always easy. Fortunately, my day started with a conversation that set the day's tone. A friend of nearly twenty-five years shared the impact of a conversation between himself and several students. One of the girls said she couldn’t wait until she was eighteen so that she could leave her parents’ home and live true to her heart. Her friends her commitment to delay living true to heart and called her on it.


They weren’t encouraging her to be disrespectful. They were pointing out that there were ways to live true to her heart while with her parents.  She heard them.


My friend’s point was that the conversation he had with his students was a by-product of a conversation between the two of us the day before. I'd shared an instance when I mistook an opportunity for a problem. I eventually caught the error in how it occurred. He took "how it occured" and ran with it. When the young woman said she'd have to wait to starting living her life, he brought our conversation to her. The young lady was able to step out of a fiction and into a choice.


He wanted me to recognize my contribution to a girl 500 miles away whom I’ve never met.  “Either one of us alone, we’re pretty good. Together, as a tag team…”


It was in that moment that I was moved to tears at seeing the web of our words so clearly. One person says “Great job. Tell me how you did that.” The hearer shares this new idea with someone else. The next person creates something based on that conversation and shares it with someone else. As human beings, we create new worlds with our words. I thought about all the conversations I’ve had with this friend over the years. How many times he has said something that changed how I approached a particular lesson. Or the times he shared a strategy he used in his classroom that I’d never considered. Then I try it and the lesson is smooth. A student is touched in an expected way by an idea or concept or information. A new world opens up.


We treat too lightly and at the same time too literally “And God said.” Without starting an argument on creationism, what if it there’s a message in the beginning. Said. What we say has immense power. Until today, I mostly considered it as powerful in creating an experience or a result or thoughts. It was an experience from me to the person receiving my words.


Today's mindfulness reminds me that my words ripple out in all directions, impacting the world in ways I can’t fathom. It’s not the person to whom I say, “I appreciate your taking the time to help me” who benefits. Everyone in hearing range is a little lighter remembering what it is like to be appreciated and to express appreciation. Each person these people interact with afterwards are affected by the good feeling and receive an unexpected smile, a nod of acknowledgement or a little slack for an innocent mistake. And the ripple continues outward. An email, a text, a phone call or a post. Love spreads like wild fire.


Treat your words like matches. Use them to warm hearts, not to burn bridges.

 


There's a new app in town.

Blog here.

We're all angels.


What a wonderful read.  I found this and immediately thought of compassion games...

"In the past few years a great deal of attention has been paid to angels and many people have become more aware of the possibility that insight and guidance may be offered at surprising times and in surprising ways. Books have been written about meetings with such celestial messengers and the help and healing they have offered. What is not so so commonly recognized is that it is not only angels that carry divine messages of healing and guidance; any one of us may be used in the same way. We are messengers for each other. The difference between us and the folks with the wings is that we often carry these messages without knowing."

Has someone ever smiled at you on a particularly bad day? Did it lift your spirits?  Or maybe a clerk or cashier gave you a discount that allowed you to stay within a tight budget without your asking.  There are so many ways that others brighten our day.

That's what compassion games are about. Take a moment to smile, give something to someone or to express your gratitude. These simple acts have the power to change a day.
Stories That by Rachel Naomi Remen

For the love of animals. Fall Compassion Games for Schools Start Strong

It's the second day of hosting our school's Collective Compassion Games and it is already worth every single minute of planning and preparation.

Brian Daly, founder of Bone Appetit, spoke with our students today about his compassionate fundraising to feed the pets of those served by St. Vincent's Meals on Wheels program. It was inspiring. He raised $20,000 in four months--enough to feed the pets of struggling seniors and shut-ins for an entire year. As a volunteer delivering meals, he learned that some of the seniors were sharing their meals with their pets. As a dog owner he understood the sacrifice. "But," he continued, "both were going to bed hungry." The students were touched by his actions.

When it was time for questions and answers, the students shared some of their own experiences giving or receiving compassion. And then, something amazing happened.  One student started off by saying, "There are not a lot of people like you. It's great that you have compassion for animals, that you care; but not everyone is like that. Most people are not like that." It was clear that the student repeated a variation of this again. The entire classroom was patient and compassionate in allowing him to get out whatever it was that he was going to say next.

"Three days ago, someone ran over my dog. They didn't even stop...I tried to run after it and get the license plate...That person didn't care."  He shared his anguish at the lack of compassion  generously and eloquently. If it weren't for this event it is entirely possible that the student would not have shared what happened with anyone of his classmates or teachers. We could hear how raw the experience was for him. In hearing Brian's compassion, he was reminded that he was not alone in caring for animals. He was not in a thoughtless, careless world that devalued the role of animals as companions.

By the end of the conversation that took place between students, teachers and speakers, something was restored. The student was reassured. All of us were touched.

Daly speaker

Use freerice.com in your Compassion Game

FreeRice.com has more than vocabulary questions. The site donates 10 grains of rice for each correct answer. Pick your subject:  Famous paintings, Spanish, Latin, Geography, World Landmarks, German, SAT Prep by Kaplan, chemistry, anatomy and humanities just to get you started.

This short video that walks you through using FreeRice.com as part of a group compassion game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IAGgYH-5HM

 

Today's Act of Compassion (TAC): Remembrance.

I've been blessed with lots of love in my life. Today, taking advantage of today's compassionate action, I'm thinking of my grandmother,  Fern Smittick. 


The gift she gave me was the power to think for myself, to recognize my self as unique. It wasn't always pretty, the way she accomplished this feat. There were times when the way she challenged why I thought what I thought and did what I did could move me to tears or anger.

Once, she made me so mad we didn't speak for months. I'd just returned from a vacation in Turks and Caicos. I'd gone for the beauty and also to work on a novel that covered nine generations of powerful African and African-descended women. I showed her the pictures of the Caribbean and shared a few stories from my travel. After acknowledging the beauty, she asked, forehead crinkled and in a suspicious tone "Why you always going where white people go?" 

My response, "'Cause they're always going to places I want to go. I can't help it if the beautiful places I want to go are the places they go to, too!" From there she and I went back and forth for thirty minutes. Voices were raised.  Faces were made. Veiled accusations of ignorance flew in both directions. And tears welled up in my eyes. At first, because she suggested I was trying to be what I am not. I found it offensive that this strong African descended woman who helped raise me and who had ensured I was strong in spirit would accuse her dreadlocks-wearing granddaughter of harboring any trace of cultural denial. That I was writing a book on strong, African-American women did not dissuade her challenge. 

I wrote to her a few days later, explaining my hurt. She called me up after reading the letter and said, "I'm sorry your feelings were hurt." That was my grandmother. She would not apologize for challenging me. And after a few months, I got over it and, truth is, we were closer than ever after that engagement. She forced me to question my self. I did. Then I questioned her questioning. I was curious instead of offended. For the first time, I looked at life from her experiences. 

She grew up a sharecropper's daughter. To my knowledge she'd always lived in segregated neighborhoods. Harm came to black folks who lost their way. She rarely left her home as she grew older, even refusing the trip across town to join family for holiday meals and gatherings. After that match, I looked at her differently,  compassionately.  I stopped resisting her concern for my inordinate degree of freedom in the world. From that point forward I took her challenges as an opportunity to look newly at both my own assumptions and her perspective.

After that fight, we had an understanding. We had respect. She saw that I lived a freedom she hadn't dare to dream for herself. I saw that this strong-willed woman who raised three daughters and two sons to think critically by engaging them at every turn was the reason I learned to live free.  I am grateful for her strength and her commitment to empowering through self-knowledge.

My grandmother was a character, too. When her youngest daughter complained of being depressed and entertaining suicidal thoughts, my grandmother promptly slapped her. She was slapping some sense into her. That aunt lived decades longer, going in and out of the hospital for various ailments and back pain. I love Fern. If she saw anything that looked like weakness in her children or grandchildren she confronted it the next time you visited with her.

She'd quit her daily beer and Pall Mall cigarettes by simple choice. No counseling, self-help books, nicotine patches or other assistance. Just her will to quit when  my little sister confronted her. My sister unintentionally implied addiction was a weakness. That was the end of that.

She expected all of us to be as strong. Any hint of weakness in her offspring threatened the certainty that she'd done her best as parent and grandparent. 

My grandmother is the reason I move boldly in the world and the reason I question every move I make.  Her stand for us was not always pretty, but it was always from love. Rest in complete peace, Fern. Your strength and love live on.

Eternity is only Now

It's been quite a busy day. Lots of phone calls. Lots of emails. Plenty of writing when I sneak it in. Time with my sweetheart. Time walking my dog.

A few minutes ago I answered the phone when a friend rang. He'd already called several times and this was the first chance to speak with him. In the process of sharing what my day was like, I began to see something clearly. I told him about having said "yes" to lots of things and finally realizing that I can't do it all.

It is a new experience for me to be a "yes." I spent years thinking I was a loner. I thought I needed lots of rest. I thought I preferred to hide in the background. 

Then the Adventures in Compassion books came to me. And I joined Landmark Education's Team Management and Leadership Program to help me spread the power of compassion games by going outside my small pond. I told my friend that this new found freedom to say "yes" helped me learn the importance of "no." Not the "no" from the past which was based in fear of stepping further out than I was comfortable or the "no" that came from being anxious and wanting above all to be accepted by others at the expense of my self. The "no" that is born from being a wholehearted "yes" to life is a "no" from knowing time is precious.

In the past, I related to eternity as a time that follows after this life. A time outside of now. It's something beyond today. It lasts forever, but it isn't here yet.

Today a plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Violence in Israel and Palestine is escalating. People are dying to win and dying to be right.

And I'm busy saying yes. And learning to say no. Learning that there is only so much time in a day. That there are only so many days in our lives.

In the conversation with my friend, I unexpectedly said aloud "I never lived my life like I stood for something." Standing for compassion on the planet is a big deal. For me it stems from an imagined agreement to raise the vibration of the planet by one percent. Or die trying.

Maybe as an eternal dreamer, as a young soul in Heaven, I misunderstood raising the vibration by one percent and thought it was more like taking being able to pass a multiple choice test with one percent. Big difference. Real or imagined, I now live my life standing inside an agreement to raise the vibration of the planet by one percent. Please don't ask me how I'd measure it. My guess is they have some sort of device for that in Heaven.
 
What I do matters in a way it didn't before. Eternity lives in this moment. Eternity is only now.

Choosing the Greater Good

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Compassion is a relative term.

I recently tweeted a compassionate way to control ants with lavender oil and water. I added that after you spray, killing those overcome with the minuscule amount of lavender oil mixed in with the water, other surviving ants return to “collect the fallen.” 


So my “compassion” involves killing several innocent creatures. The most compassionate action is to allow ants to be ants. To leave them alone and remove any attractive elements that will bring them where you don’t want them to go.

As in the small things, so in the large. When a war is waged it is almost certain that there will be “collateral damage.” A military term for the innocent people killed in pursuit of taking down the enemy.
Collateral damage” is someone else’s mother, sister, wife, daughter, son, husband, brother or father. Not ours.


Does that mean we don’t go to war? Do we wait patiently for a despotic dictator who kills without consequence to be killed without collateral damage? I’ll speak my own truth. If I were alive during World War II and saw photographs of human beings being gassed en masse and deposited into mass graves like trash deposited into dumps, I suspect I would see collateral damage as a necessary evil. If I traveled the South in the 1850’s and witnessed human beings whipped mercilessly for slow work or any perceived insult or insubordination, I can’t imagine failing to stand by a war to free them.


Today, we witness world leaders contemplate whether and when to unleash violence to thwart further violence. I’d like to consider myself entirely anti-war. And yet, the historic abuses of humanity by humanity will not allow me to so squarely and definitively stand against war in every instance.


What I can say is that I believe all war can be avoided. Yes, I firmly and squarely believe that is truth. It requires a willingness by all parties to see one another as part of a global human family. We’d have to consider that while “collateral damage” is someone else’s brother, sister, son or daughter, they are our extended family.  If we saw each other in that way, diplomacy is all we’d ever need. But we don’t…yet.


Without pride in saying so, I find my “compassion” allows me to tolerate the loss of innocent creatures for a greater good.  The most compassionate perspective, however, is to allow people to be people. To leave them alone and remove the paradigms, poverty and interference that lures them to the torture of others.


Germans went along with Hitler after hyperinflation created the condition of desperation. He may have been a madman, but his nation followed him to war. Slavery was despised, but the North and most nations participated in the trade that came from enslaved labor.


Compassion is a relative term. Do you buy the latest creature comfort knowing that the hands that made it do not earn a livable wage? Do you buy the low gas mileage vehicle knowing that it contributes to climate change more than the smaller, less attractive and maybe less convenient high mileage vehicle?


There’s no right answer. There’s only your answer. My answer.  Our daily choices.

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Compassion is in our Hands

 Compassion is in our hands

Compassion Games are A Movemeant to Transform Humanity

I fondly recall springtime at Stanford University. The weather was often perfect, temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s with hardly a breeze. The campus was quieter now that all the freshmen were settled into routines. Spring was the quarter to right any winter wrongs.


Birds chirped throughout the campus, flip-flops carried their wearers to grassy areas, fountains, benches and yards for reading in the sun followed soon after by napping in the sun. If my stroll back to the dorms took me past a patch of grass larger enough to fling a Frisbee several times, I’d see mostly lean young men playing some weird game.


By the time I graduated I understood the basics of how Ultimate Frisbee was played. I never played, mind you. But those who did seemed to love it. In fact, they were passionate about it. The folks who knew about the game and played it were passionate about it. Everyone else gave it an occasional glance, a nod of respect or a smile of appreciation. That’s about the reaction I get when I talk about compassion games. I get nods, smiles and appreciation, but not a lot of folks stepping up to play.


It takes a while for new ideas to catch on. The founders of Ultimate Frisbee invented the rules as they went along. Compassion games are the same. There’s no right or wrong way to play a compassion game. The goal isn’t adherence to some particular rules, it’s to take compassionate action and have those actions make a difference in the present, in the future, with loved ones and with strangers.


Several cities, most notably Louisville and Seattle, play their compassion games citywide. My high school and a few others have played versions of compassion games. The goal is not to standardize them, but to make them popular and common. I dream of a day when there are various sites hosting compassion games of different flavors, different lengths and styles. Who knows, from among the many compassion games invented, we may find that there are some particular styles that work best. Compassion relays, compassion teams and compassiolympics may become standard fair for clubs, neighborhoods, groups and businesses.


By the way, Ultimate Frisbee was invented in 1968. The games I witnessed around campus were in the mid-1980s.  In 2001, Ultimate Frisbee became a medal sport in the World Games. By 2009, it drew the highest attendance at the World Games in Taipei with 50,000 paid admissions. Not bad for a game someone made up. Actually, pretty much every game we play was made up by someone, somewhere at some point in time.


Watch out world. Compassion games are a movemeant to transform humanity.

 

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All in the Family. Compassion Games

Yesterday, between classes, I was talking with two students. I can’t recall exactly what we were talking about, but at one point one of the two said, “The only problem with the world today is we don’t look at each other as family.” I found the statement profound.


Imagine how different the world would be if each of us saw one another as family. Encountering a homeless person is a different experience when that person moves from nameless individual to a long lost son, nephew, cousin or uncle. What if instead of walking by, you offered some change for a meal, or come back with the card of a nearby shelter, church or other organization that offers help. I know I would do that if I saw my uncle on the corner. At a minimum, I’d send up a prayer.


Recently, men in a terrorist network kidnapped over two hundred children. Even if these children are successfully rescued and returned to their homes, they are scarred. Chances are it will impact their children and their children’s children. Rescued is the best case while the real possibility of these young girls being trafficked into some form of slavery is among the worst. Who among us would gather up hundreds of our underage female cousins to sell them into bondage?


Who among us would invade our own homeland, take our aunt’s home or shoot at our sisters? Sadly, I can’t say that none of us would do such things, but most of us would not.


For about a decade I taught both United States and World History. Students inevitably wondered how human beings could perpetrate such cruelty on one another whenever we studied war. It took the lives of over 600,000 soldiers and an unknowable number of enslaved African-American and abolitionist lives to end slavery.


Over the course of World War II, 8.7 million soldiers died. The most horrific deaths were of 6 million Jews, Gypsies and others deemed undesirable and systematically killed by Nazis as if they were cattle. That number does not include more than 10 million Chinese killed during this global war. Germany’s total was 7 to 9 million, including Jews. Total Soviet Union deaths attributed to the war is above 20 million. We humans have a habit of treating each other as threatening strangers.


Compassion games are an opportunity to look around and see our fellow human beings as family. Making time to smile at those you normally walk past, serving others and other acts of kindness change the world. I firmly believe that if 1,000,000 people joined in playing compassion games, there would be in ripple into the future that changed the fate of the world. Lofty, I know. But each of the 30 day Adventures in Compassion games cause each player to touch a minimum of 30 lives, and more likely hundreds. That's 30 million individuals touched by compassionate action.


Compassion games do not replace charitable giving or volunteering. They add an increased context of love to whatever you are already doing and open each player to new every day opportunities to do more.


The actions in the game connect us to the commonality of humanity, our capacity to connect, to love and to nurture the best in one another. Compassionate action can move us to appreciate our planet as our global home and to take care of her. Compassion games are an adventure in rediscovering our family.


Randomized Acts of Kindness.

Wondering how the daily compassionate actions on the Every Day Compassion calendar are generated?  Are they random or is there some type of order?

 

For those who are curious, here’s how it works for now. My long-term goal is to create multiple calendar options.  My dream is to create a list of 100 or more different actions and to have a daily action generate and post automatically at 5am Eastern Standard Time to a widget or app.

 

Warning: The remainder of the blog is the tedium of which dates are placed where and given only for the curious. It ain’t exciting stuff, so don’t read to the end and then re-read it again looking for the missed joke, clever anecdote or storyline. Some of you imaginative types may find a metaphor for your life, but that will simply be an accident of consciousness.

 

Currently, I place the daily actions of specific Shyne Every Day compassion games on the calendar first.


  Celebrating a History of Compassion (Feb 1st – Mar 2nd

   Adventures in Compassion, 30 Days to Grow Heart and Soul (Aug 1st – Aug 30th)
     Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest  (Sept 11 – Sept 21st)
 
   Make a Difference Month (Oct 1 – Oct 30)

 

In the remaining months, I align actions with several holidays.

 

For all other dates in between, I use Random.org’s true randomizer to sort through a growing list of compassionate actions. I generated a list today to cover dates between now and June 28th. I’ll generate another randomized list for the dates June29th – September 31st, that will cover remainder of June, all of July and the dates in September that are no part of the Survival of the Kindest Compassion Game.

 

Then another list generated by Random.org to cover November 1st through January 31st. Then Celebrating a History of Compassion begins.

 

I bet you can guess what happens March 1st.

 

The generated list provided below is for reference only.  Keep in mind I took the “Thank Someone Who Serves” out of the randomized order to align with Armed Services Day. I also added “Learn Something New” day to align with the Juneteenth holiday.

 

Enlarge to read.

Happy Earth Day

My favorite destination on the planet is any Caribbean Island.  Actually, not any Caribbean Island.  They don’t all capture the laidback ease that shades of turquoise should inspire. Competing for top spot in my book are Barbados and Turks and Caicos.


I love the quiet beachside strolls and the sudden tropical storms equally. Not hurricanes, storms. The mood is naturally relaxed. What’s the rush? The other side of the island will still be there tomorrow. The hushed roar of the tide lapping against the sand quietly asks your subconscious to allow your heart to slow down and join the natural rhythm of earth. And you do.


My greatest wish is that we allow the planet to maintain her natural balance, rhythm, cycles and variety of life forms.  I spread the message of compassion because I believe it is the starting point to changing negative habits of action to positive.  It is an access to moving our consciousness from self-concern to concern for others, and from concern for now to concern for the future.

My view of planet earth is that we are an oasis in the Milky Way.  Our planet is beautiful.  Her life forms varied, intriguing, intelligent and awe-inspiring.  It is an honor and a privilege to circle the sun a few times atop this huge, round rock.


I believe we human beings have an obligation to use our intelligence wisely. We have the capacity to impact the planet in ways no other earth creature can even fathom. We, unique to all other creatures, can destroy the planet instantly by pushing buttons electromagnetically connected to planes, launchers and bombs. That doesn’t seem as likely as destroying her slowly through greed and excessive consumption. Our need to satisfy each and every want no matter the cost to others or planet fuels resource depletion, poverty and war.


Our unique intelligence and power also makes it possible to create paradise on the planet for all of us. It starts with increasing the expression of compassion. If you are religious or spiritual and drawn to increase compassionate action as an act of faith, remember to extend your prayers to the planet. If you are more aligned with present life than faith in another, allow compassion to make life better for those around you to improve the quality of life for those here today and those to come.


Happy Earth Day.

Give a Memory

Yesterday’s compassionate action was to give something to someone.


I checked the compassion calendar the night before. The following morning I was glad I remembered to put the body fragrance in my bag. I wasn’t sure who I planned to give it to, but that was going to be what I gave away. I expected that as I went through my day, the person to whom it belonged would become obvious.


I glanced at it several times throughout the day. Not one student or colleague stood out as a person who’d appreciate it. When I left work, it still sat there, on my desk. The day wasn’t over, but my compassionate action was not completed when 5pm came around.


Just as I changed into my walking shoes and prepared my dog for a walk in the park, my mother called. Sometime over the summer, we began taking walks together more frequently. She asked to join me. “Sure. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes.” Then a call came in. It was a friend going through frustrating and challenging experience. I gave her my ear.


By the time I picked my mom up and completed a few errands with her in tow, it was near sunset. I ordered my errands to land us near the beach at completion.


We got out, put the dog on the leash and began walking. A little more than halfway through the stroll, she acknowledges that it was nice to be out on the beach walk. My mom spends her retirement caring for family and friends. She taxis the carless, watches great-nephews, and continues to care for my youngest cousin, a college freshman, whom she began raising when she was fifty and he was six-months-old.  Taking walks on the beach is not on her agenda.


Halfway through the stroll back to my car, she stops and really appreciates the beauty of the sunset, the perfect 70 degree temperature and the nightscape of the Long Beach oceanfront. She lives less than twenty minutes from the beach. She said it had been nearly two decades since she went for a stroll along the walkway adjacent to the beach in the city she’s lived in for over fifty years.


Now before that tear gets to your cheek, I didn’t say she never gets out. It’s just that a sunset stroll at the beach isn’t on her to-do list. I’ve taken her on trips for birthdays or other occasions. We visited Augusta, GA to meet a feisty and independent aunt who was 91-years-old at the time. We visited her brother in Atlanta. There was a trip to the Grand Canyon, mostly for my cousin. We visited DC and stayed at the Watergate Hotel.  She hasn’t been so busy caring for others that she never enjoyed herself.

Two weeks ago, at an aunt’s 60th birthday, she stayed out on the dance floor after others left. She was having so much fun, some of the guests returned to the dance floor to join the fun she was having.


Going to the beach just doesn’t cross her mind. Like some of the residents of Orlando, Florida who stop visiting Disney World after the kids can go on their own. Or the DC resident who  stops caring whether they make it to see the Christmas lights at the White House.


By the time I dropped her back at home it was after 8pm and my day’s compassionate action complete. I’d given her an unexpected gift of a memorable sunset walk and stroll down memory lane.


And I bought her the tropical punch flavored water drink she likes.

My Global Footprint

 http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/58/45/ca/5845cac63526f53d5dc7f0cd73f8b5fc.jpg

 

 

It's embarrassing. It takes 4.4 planets. That's my global footprint. If everyone lived like me--driving alone to work, eating meat several times a week and buying food grown from all over the nation and even the planet--it would take another 4.4 planets with the same proportion of productive resources. Ouch!

Since starting the Adventures in Compassion, I've increased my recycling habits; use a thermos; and I pay more attention to the mileage from my hybrid. I eat less meat and more seaweed. A lot more seaweed. I really don't know what people are talking about when they say it doesn't smell or taste very good. I eat it twice a day. Maybe eating "a lot" of it isn't helping the planet, but it is definitely better than replacing it with a daily steak. Just saying.

My plants are desert-friendly succulents. I walk instead of using an electricity-using treadmill. I use free weights, too. Well, when I actually use weights, I use free weights. OK, fine, a few times a year I pick up my weights for a week or so. The point is they were purchased sometime in the 90s and I still use the same weights to decorate the garage for 47 weeks of the year.

I placed stetzerizers throughout my home--cool gadgets that absorb dirty electricity and reduce electricity usage throughout the home. I could add a few other items that would surely impress you.

However, there's always more that can be done. My goal is to move into a footprint neutral home powered by solar energy and which uses a rooftop yard to provide better insulation. My footprint will also lessen in a few weeks when I recycle my electronic devices at an annual recycling event sponsored by a local business. I can definitely start buying more of my fruit at the many local farmer's markets around me.

All that being said, I'm just glad the changes I've made have already reduced my global footprint. Just six months ago, it would take more than six planets if everyone consumed like me.

I've made progress. But compassion doesn't rest on progress. Compassion is about staying in action to make the world a better place for all of us.


Standing for the Future

My government classes are creating their own minor parties, exploring the differences between splinter, economic-protest, ideological and single issue parties.  As one class worked on them, I heard a ruckus on the far side of the classroom.


A few students were in a rather heated exchange. At first I thought it was the occasional teenage dramatic flair-up easily managed with a temporary seat change. Nope, two students on different sides of an issue were seated next to each other and were engaged in debate. Yippee!!  A teacher’s dream come true.


The two were squaring off over gay marriage. The male student was opposed to gay marriage and gay rights, while the female was an avid supporter.  I allowed them to continue. It was refreshing to listen to an open and frank discussion rather than just hot air sparring.  The female student explained that she has a younger brother who is still in the closet within his larger family.  He desperately wants to be accepted by his more machismo brothers and strong father, so he keeps being gay a secret.


Her heart aches because of the circumscribed life she sees her brother choosing for the sake of fitting in. I’m not certain, but it sounds as if, though he is not out with his family, he has nonetheless experienced some degree of bullying at school.  “He doesn’t get to be himself,” I heard her say.


It was inspiring to see this young woman speak so eloquently and passionately about what matters to her. It was another confirmation that teens are passionate about issues that touch them. They may not watch, read or listen to the news in the near religious-like fashion that folks over forty attend to what’s happening in the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the issues that teachers, parents and politicians are grappling with as well.


His mind wasn't changed, nor is that the point. He listened. She expressed how his view impacted someone she loved. She listened. She understood the source of his convictions. Neither moved seats. In fact, they continued to discuss other issues. What happened? They heard one another and accepted that each person's view was valid. It reminds me why I have joined the compassion movement.

 

I’m excited about teaming-up with Compassion It. My school will host a Compassion It club in the upcoming school year. We'll continue to play the Adventures in Compassion games we started in February. This young girl demonstrated one of the compassionate actions encouraged in the Adventures in Compassion game for Teens--Take a Stand for Something.

 

“Always be courageous and strong, and don’t fear.”

–Gabby Douglas


Green Begets Green.

Compassion asks that we put a little thought and intention into our choices. Where we can, make a conscientious effort to leave the world a little better off.


Until 2013, I often purchased $4 chai lattes from Starbucks on weekends, holidays and vacations. It wasn’t until I wrote the Adventures in Compassion series, that I took it upon myself to buy and use a refillable cup instead of constantly consuming their paper products. The choice ended up saving me a whole lot of money in addition to helping the environment.


Once I started using the reusable cup, I began to experiment with healthier versions of my chai habit. I stopped adding sweetened soy milk by the cupful, preferring just enough milk to cream it up a bit. I also replaced the large amount of raw sugar needed to get my at-home brew as sweet as the Starbucks' version. Now a tablespoon of raw, organic honey does the trick. My at-home per serving cost dropped in half from nearly $3 to under a $1.50. That’s a drop even counting the price of my favorite raw, organic honey. Putting the environment first was a boon for my pocket book.


Just yesterday I heard a story on Marketplace about the surging use of individual serve coffee pods.  According to journalist Murray Carpenter, if you placed the number of Keurig K-cups produced in 2013 in a neat little row, they’d encircle the planet 10.5 times. 


It’s not my intention to get anyone to drop their Keurig.  Just know that what is just a little bit of waste by you, by me and by a few million of our earthmates adds up.  To Keurig’s credit, they are looking for ways to make a more environmentally friendly package for their single brew coffee cups.  They have set “ambitious” sustainability targets, including making 100% of their K-Cups recyclable.


Citing a New York Times article, Mother Jones reports “it ends up costing more than $50 per pound, even for standard brands like Folgers, compared to the less than $20 you can expect to pay for a bag of roasted beans.”


As it is for chai, so it is for coffee.  Green begets green.

The TED talk that started the Compassion Movement

When I started writing The Compassion Series, I wanted to make up a compassion challenge. Thirty days of taking actions that make our communities and our world a more loving, generous and compassionate place.

I stumbled upon the compassion movement after I completed the first two books. I'd never heard a word about Seattle's Survival of the Kindest games. As shocking as this may be to those who've participated in the Compassion Movement for years now, I also hadn't heard of Karen Armstrong. Signing the Charter for Compassion was a no-brainer when I read it.

Whether you're new to the compassion movement or actively involved, if you've never watched Karen Armstrong's TED talk. Here's an opportunity.

karen armstrong  

Here to Help Heal

For those who may not know, the Every Day Compassion actions that began in March mirror the sequence in Celebrating a History of Compassion. No surprise, I almost always have a copy on hand. Posting the calendar of compassionate actions was for everyone else, not me.

I keep a copy by my door and another in my computer bag. There's also a copy I keep at my desk. It came as a surprise that there wasn't a copy lying around somewhere nearby. To find the day's action I had to click on the posted calendar.

Today's action is doing something for the planet. I read through the options and was immediately drawn to prayer for the health of the planet. As I began, it occurred to me to send a little energy the earth's way. I am a healer. It's funny to write it here like that. So plain and straight.

It's true that I am certified energy healer. I've trained energy healers and I've healed others. I've made it an irregular practice to send healing energy to the planet. When friends or family request it, I send energy to help their healing process.

Writing it out reminds me that we are all healers. We heal with our words. We heal ourselves with meditation. We heal with hugs. We heal with touch. We heal with the simplicity of a smile or nod of recognition. We are healing machines when we direct our time and attention to doing so.

I am a healer. You are, too.

Self Love

Sometimes it’s easier to love others than to love ourselves.  I shared myself with my students. I reached out to others by phone, text and email. I scheduled myself for a volunteer opportunity. And as soon as I log off the computer, I’ll take my dog on the walk he expected yesterday afternoon.


It enlivens me to contribute to others and to be of service. Even though I know that we all have to take time to recharge, I still wasn’t all that thrilled when I checked in and saw that today’s compassionate action is to do something for me. "Love you."


Before you take too much pity on me, know that I do enjoy vacations and am fully capable of taking an evening to veg in front of the television or take myself out for a me-time meal at my favorite eatery. The difference is doing it for no reason other than that it is the designated compassionate action of the day. "Is that all? There's gotta be something better I can do today."


I’m forced to acknowledge that I most often wait until I need a break to take one. I haven’t built me-time into my schedule on a regular basis. I won't try to look good by saying I see the error in my ways and plan to start doing so immediately.


What I can say is that I’m grateful for the opportunity to take a look at my Monday and realize that I had every intention of staying busy from the time I woke up until I bedtime without much thought about doing anything, either special or mundane, just for me.


Given today's compassion game action, I won’t be taking my dog Chocolate on a walk after all. Instead I’ll be allowing Chocolate to accompany me on a quiet walk outdoors. I’ll sit in the grass, take deep breaths and appreciate how glorious it is to be alive. I'll soak up nature's beauty like it's a cooler-than-usual summer day.


Then back home. And, most likely, back to the computer or the phone or laundry or editing. Or not.

_____________


Love me.

Love, me.


March 17th. Write a Thank you Note and actually send it.

SOOOO true!
My best friend had tons of work to do this weekend. His business is taking off. That's a good thing. The only down side is that it pinches on the time for play and friends. We hadn't hung out in weeks. On Sunday, he sacrificed time to catch up on work to hang out with me.


It was pretty cool. I know I said something like "It was fun hanging out" or similar. Today, though, in thinking about whom to send a thank-you note, I chose him. Taking the time to write it out helped me appreciate just how generous he'd been sharing his thoughts and time.

Glad I'm playing the game of creating a compassionate action each day.

____
Yesterday's action was to thank those who serve. I sent an email to Diane Feinstein, thanking her for the time she has spent serving the state of California and requesting she look into the criminal activities of those involved in violating the 4th Amendment and basic human rights through electronic harassment, gang stalking and illegal surveillance.  

Keep ComPassion alive.

Friday ended quite a week. I was a coach for a couple participants in a Landmark Communication course. Tons of calls. Lots of communication. It was also the day the Assistant Superintendent for High Schools and the Curriculum Leader for my department would be visiting our high school. On top of that, I wanted to complete my endorsement letter for the Earth Charter Initiative by day's end. And then there was the after school class on careers I teach at my high school a couple times a year. Busy!

So when I re-read the day's compassionate action, to smile at five people I normally would not, I was very tempted to just call it day for smiling at the same people I normally smile at--students, staff, etc. I smile all the time. I've been playing my compassion game challenges for a while now. Would it be so bad if I just fudged a little. I smiled at lots of people for goodness' sake.

But I knew that lacked integrity. If I can't take the challenges at their word, why should anyone else? I had a few things to pick up in a Target store. Might as well as take it on, even if I wasn't feeling it.

The first couple folks I smiled at didn't smile back. They searched my face to see if they locate a motive or maybe the signs of mental illness. That's when it shifted. I remembered how weird and unusual it is for strangers to smile at one another.

We may move the corners of our mouths to intimate that we are smiling, but even that is carefully controlled to avoid looking like we care too much for our fellow citizens.

I went full out. I smiled at all kinds of people as I walk through the store. On my way out, I gave the security guard a genuine smile of appreciation and acknowledgement. There was a little hesitation on his part to believe I intended my smile for him. When he was sure it was intentional, his face lit up.

It's a stretch for me to say I made his day since I didn't actually ask him about it or even go beyond the smile to have a conversation with him. But I saw it in his eyes. It was as if it was the first time all day that anyone had acknowledged his common humanity.

What started out as keeping my word transformed into contributing my smile to others. Over the next thirty minutes or so, I smiled at all kinds of people. Some couldn't respond. They were too stunned or confused. Others were lit up by the chance to have a genuine interaction with another.

I play these daily compassion games because I experience the small actions make in a person's day. If just a couple people I interacted with smilingly do the same with a couple other people, I know that ten people's day was a little lighter.

Tell me that's not reason enough to take on these games?

Opportunities for Compassion

Today is Day One...again. I'm repeating the Compassion Game from Celebrating a History of Compassion. I missed a couple days in February when I came down with a bug that would only leave with a stiff dose of antibiotics. As the author and originator of the game, I want to complete it with 100% integrity. So, today starts the new opportunity.

I was reminded why I like the game and why it is a challenge. I live alone now. My 17-year-old cousin lived with me during the school year for the last few years, but now it is just me and my dog.

With only finishing my taxes and a couple errands on today's agenda, there weren't many opportunities to be around children. I did see a few while out but it was outside the spirit of my commitment to walk up and say something like "You're a really nice kid."

By 9pm, I had not acknowledged a child as the game requires and was spending time with family. My 17-year-old cousin was there getting ready for a night out celebrating the 18th birthday of one his friends.

He was playing rap music while he dressed. I could have complimented him on his tendency to dress impeccably even when he's just wearing jeans and a shirt. He's the kind of kid who has always taken pride in dressing well. Not obsessively so and not with a need for designer labels for the sake of designer labels.

Even as a three-year-old he had preferences about what to wear with what. By four he was picking out his own clothes. Nicely! Half-joking, I asked him when he was four if I should wear "this shirt or that one" with a pair of jeans. He looked over the options, weighed their merits and told me his choice. He was right on. Having invited him to give his input, by the time he was five he was pointing out without prompting that yellow wasn't really a good color for me.

Tonight, I acknowledged my cousin. Not for his native sense of style, but because at seventeen he's already begun his college career. He takes bus and train to a trade college twenty-six miles away. He is managing his time for studying and working through the seemingly endless requirements thrown his way to meet the needs of community college bureaucracy. And he's doing it on his own. I acknowledged his commitment to his education even when no one is looking.

I'll admit that sometimes the compassion game's with their daily actions can seem a bit contrived. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that he appreciated the acknowledgment. And that acknowledgement might have happened one day, but it wouldn't have happened that day, if not for playing this Adventure in Compassion with it's daily challenge to fit in some particular act of compassion.

It's about creating opportunities to live compassion, rather than waiting for something to pull it from you.


Students playing CHC Compassion Game

A good friend of mine once chided from his armchair that he found it funny when Olympic athletes say "I can't believe it" after victory. There are tons of ways victors who've worked tirelessly for some result seem to contradict their work by implying that their success caught them by surprise. I used to laugh right along with him. How do you work hard for something, something that really matters to you, and then find yourself amazed that you produced the very result you were going after?

Now I know.

The students in our high school were encouraged to participate in the Celebrating a History of Compassion game I created. Copies of the books were in the classrooms and they were also able to access the links from the Facebook page of the same name.

The first of "score sheets" were turned in today. It was humbling. I had to remind myself that 3rd period was starting and that a tearful appreciation for the impact of a compassion game I created wasn't going to let me lead my students in completing the day's activities. Nonetheless, I was deeply moved.

Most of the lines are five words or less to describe the actions the student took in living a life of compassion for the 30-day game. Yet, each line conveyed a triumph of compassion, a contribution to someone's life.

"Did not swear the whole day." I love that one. To know that a student took on something that seems so relatively insignificant touches me. It implies knowing that it is something worth giving up. It implies a value for communicating in a way that is soothing. He may go back to swearing. I should say he will very, very likely go back to swearing. But I'd like to think that indulging restraint for one day may reduce it by whatever degree.

"Did not litter all day." I've seen the lunch benches when lunch is over. Students litter. Whether a function of age, culture or environment, there are students who will continue walking if their two-point attempt is rejected by the trash can's rim. For that day, this student paid attention.

He told his Mom, "I love you."
He gave his brother a book.
He listened to his mother.

Now, some of the actions were not executed as I expected. Sometimes, they weren't executed as directed.
And none of that matters.

This young man and others like him were engaged in the spirit of compassionate action over a month's time.

I love seeing the evidence of how much we all care, regardless of age. I get the difference we all make, regardless of our age.

Phenomenal.

Wow! One kid's #compassion game score sheet. Humbly satisfying. http://t.co/8Iyov6D4NQ

— Rahbin Shyne (@RahbinShyne) February 28, 2014 " alt="" />

The Power of Thank You.


“Thank  you
  is the best prayer that anyone could say.
I say that one a lot.

Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”

--Alice Walker


Compassion for Earth is a Practice.

It started with a small bag here. Another there. Old habits creep back in slowly. Then you're doing it all the time. It got so bad. Thank goodness I caught it. All's well.

My reusables are on hand. I'm leaving those ocean-life-sucking plastic bags behind.

Day 8 -- Celebrating a History of Compassion

Today is Day 8 of Celebrating a History of Compassion: Give away one dollar. 


I drove up to Simply Wholesome in Inglewood, CA for an early morning breakfast. Although an internet review said they opened at 8am, the hours on the door said 8:30am, so I hung out for a few minutes until the gentleman getting the dining area ready for another busy Saturday invited me in.


After ordering my meal, I pulled out my own copy of Celebrating a History of Compassion to be ready for the day’s opportunities for compassion. I reread it each day to stay present to the spirit of day’s action.


I ordered a pretty big meal for my 5’ 4” frame—salmon croquettes, greens, macaroni pie and a jerk chicken patty. I added a slice of bean pie to go to pair with a latte.  Mostly, I take my homemade chai and raw honey in a thermos each morning. This morning I was in the mood to splurge and indulge. I started driving west and north in search of the green sign synonymous with lattes and premium coffee.


Less than five minutes later, I was ordering my no foam, soy, caramel-flavored latte at a Starbucks inside a Culver City supermarket. As I waited for the barista to serve up my drink, I observed a young woman pulling up a chair, setting up her voter signature sheets and placing the homeless shelter donation box in the center of the fold-up table. Whenever I play the game as designed and read up on the day’s action early in the morning, God rewards me with an adventure. I step outside, clear that she’s the one I’m supposed to give a dollar.


I inquire about the signature pages. She’s surprised someone not only volunteered to sign, but wants to hear the spiel. “What do you do?” she asks. “I’m a teacher.” I don’t mention being an author or the compassion game. I’m too intrigued by her talkativeness. She immediately asks me what she needs to do to pass her classes. She’s taking a nursing class. Her test scores are miserable. “Tell me what I need to do?”


We just met, but she asks me as if we’ve known each other for days or years. She truly expects me to give her an answer. I sign two more of the signature-gathering sheets. She keeps coming back to her classes and her exams. To explain my interest in the details of the pages, I mention that I teach government. “Oh. Well, I need you as a mentor. Come on, now. Tell me what I need to do.” She throws out a couple examples of things she thinks might help, waiting for confirmation.


Next thing I know I find myself recognizing the opportunity and having fun. “You act like I can tell you what to do. I just met you. I don’t know what you need to do. Well, actually, I can tell you this. You’re studying the way you see other people studying. But that’s not working for you. You’ve got to do what works for you. Look at how you learn best and study that way. As a matter of fact, I can tell you how you learn best. You keep asking me to tell you what to do. And I can tell you like to talk.


“Some people learn with their hands, they’re kinesthetic. Some learn visually, reading does it for them. You, you’re auditory. I can tell. You need to read your work aloud. Read the book aloud when you study. When you take notes, have someone read them back to you.”


Both of us are surprised. I’m surprised any answer came to me, let alone something that might actually work. She’s surprised I nailed her in under five minutes.


We’re both smiling. I drop two dollars in the donation box for the homeless shelter. “This one’s for you,” I added as I handed her a single dollar. She was not insulted. She could see the joy on my face. We were both clear we were part of a moment. We felt connected, one child of God to another.


I took two steps away then turned back, reached out my hand and touched her now extended hand. “I love you, girl!”

“I love you, too.”


I will never forget her face. I see it now as I type this out. Another adventure in compassion.

Day 1 Acknowledge a Child

How perfect. I am in Oakland visiting my goddaughter Trinity. Today's act of compassion is to acknowledge a child. I enjoyed acknowledging her intelligence, creativity and fun spirit all day!

Black History Month, Meet Compassion Games

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Black History Month, Meet Compassion Games

Long Beach, California – January 21, 2014

Beginning February 1st, 2014, there’s a new game in town when it comes to participating in Black History Month. From February 1st to March 2nd, the name of the game is compassionate action. “We’ve come so far. But there’s still work to do. There’s a place for TV specials, school plays and organized action, but just as important are the little actions we take, day in and day out” says author, Rahbin Shyne.  Celebrating a History of Compassion is not just the newest installment in her Compassion Series  books, she hopes it is a call to compassionate action throughout communities everywhere.

The month long event gives tribute to the accomplishments of the past by encouraging small compassionate actions each day. By month’s end, participants will have completed 30 acts of compassion and studied sixty-five African-Americans embodying the idea that we each have the power to change the world in big and small ways. When asked why she chose to marry a compassion game with Black History Month, she added,  “This is a movement for the new century. Compassion counters violence, stands against poverty and stands for communities that thrive.”

Inspired by Seattle’s city-wide Compassion Games in September, “Celebrating a History of Compassion” references the rich heritage of compassion found in Black History. “ Each day’s action will post to the Celebrating a History of Compassion Facebook page at 7am Pacific time beginning February 1st. Quotes on compassion from a history-making African-Americans will post each morning and evening, lined to their biography.

"This is an opportunity to do more than study our heroes, it’s a chance to follow in their footsteps, one day, one small action at a time,” said Donna Carey, MD, pediatrician and First Lady of True Vine Ministries which will host the kick-off event on January 31st. Attendees from several Bay Area organizations will be on hand to lend their support.

“The abolition of slavery, integration, and The Civil Rights Movement are all movements rooted in compassion,” says Rahbin Shyne. “These movements succeeded because men and women of all colors, and all ages took actions, small and large, that transformed our society.” Likewise, people of all ages and colors can participate in the February compassion game. The month long compassion game kicks off at True Vine Ministries in Oakland, CA on January 31st at 6:30pm.

Like Seattle’s annual Compassion Games, Shyne predicts this, too, will become an annual event which grows exponentially over time. Anyone interested in an advance copy of each day’s actions and the compilation of African-American history-makers can find them in the digital and print editions of her book, “Celebrating a History of Compassion.”

Rahbin Shyne is the author of several books on compassionate action and teaches civics, economics, law in Long Beach, CA.

Contact:

Rahbin Shyne

shyne@shyneeveryday.com

Celebrating a History of Compassion

I'm so excited. In celebration of Black History Month, I've just completed "Celebrating a History of Compassion."  This newest addition to The Compassion Series is a custom, limited edition to commemorate the heroes and heroines whose achievements still inspire us today.

Highlighting sixty-five history-making African-Americans, this edition reminds us that compassion is a universal virtue that propels humanity forward.

I hope you'll join me in taking this Adventure. We start on February 1st and end on March 2nd.

Find the eBook at Amazon.com. The print edition will be available January 8, 2014.


Celebrating A History of Compassion


Succinctly...

Love is why.
Any questions?

Trained To Choose...Millenial Saturday Morning Cartoons

Last night I was working on a book for young people.  My plan was to work long hours on it today to complete the chapter topics and most of the writing.


I rarely turn on the television in the morning.  Weekday mornings I’m getting ready for a day of teaching teenagers. Saturday mornings I usually give my dog, Chocolate, a long walk; linger over chai tea; wash the car; run errands and catch up with friends and family. 


This Saturday was different. Thanks to the combination of a cold, rainy December morning and the start of week of ditching sugar-laden treats, walking the dog, my super sweet chai  and car washing were out. Instead, I drank an unsweetened cup of coffee, reheated leftover pizza and switched on the television.  When I saw Saturday morning cartoons pop on, I decided to watch.


I’m of the Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Fred Flintstone and George Jetson generation. Yeah, old school Saturday morning cartoons. I can honestly say I haven’t watched Saturday morning cartoons in a decade. Sometime around 2003 my youngest cousin switched from Saturday morning cartoons to preferring my videotapes whenever he spent the night.  I probably should have realized that it was because he wasn’t allowed to watch violent movies like The Godfather at his place when he was eight-years-old.


Watching the current cartoons was mind opening. First of all, every cartoon was some version of good versus evil.  To compete with the lure of videogames and online gaming, every cartoon series I viewed involved battles, duels and fights to gain control of powerful objects, worlds or the entire universe. The stakes were much higher than a dropping anvil.  The neurobiology of whether the coyote’s nervous system will translate the visual cue that something heavy is rapidly heading toward his head into the response of flight pales in comparison to the physics, metaphysics, ethical and earth-saving concerns of today’s cartoons.


These shows were all about whether the world would be better or worse off in the near or distant future. Whether the enemy of righteousness is an evil superhero, alien nation or human creation gone berserk, the quality of the impending future is a constant concern. This is way beyond yabba-dabba-do.


It’s always great to follow your instincts, but this especially true for writers and other artists. The younger generations are immersed in the impact and power of their choices. They don’t need to be hit over the head with the power of choosing.  They just need to know their options. Good to know.

 

Compassion Act # 894

Do you remember when blogs first became popular for the published-challenged writer? Soon after blogs became popular, so did the widgets to maximize their popularity and promotion. I remember the first time I downloaded a counter. I read somewhere that if you had the option to start at a number other than zero, you should do so. You'd look way more popular and interesting if someone landed on your site and discovered they were visitor 1001, rather than visitor number 2. (Visitor number 1 was the author.)


If you are old enough to have used a checkbook, you may recall that it was better to start your checks at number 1000 or 3000 than number 100. Everyone knew check #100 was your first. It was an unwritten rule of thumb that if you were very young or new in town, your check number was the maximum dollar amount of the check merchants would cash without wincing.


Well, along those lines, I completed Compassion Act #894. Now, I'd like to think that I've done more than let's say twenty or so compassionate acts a year, but the truth is I just need any ole number to start off. I could say this is number one or whatever number I've blogged about till this post, but no one would believe that this was my sixth compassionate act in this lifetime.


Eight hundred and ninety-four has a nice ring to it. It's close to 1,000 so that gives me some credibility. Anything over 1000 is just boastful. So, as of today, I began counting 893 acts ago. I just didn't know it at the time.


After a long walk on Sunday I went over to one of the small urban parks in my area to stretch the muscles out. When I heard someone coming up from behind, it occurred to me that I might have chosen to stretch backside facing the fence. I turned around and saw a woman who seemed to be a bit older than myself, but could have just as easily lived fewer years than her face portrayed. She was caring two large bags of plastic bottles, en route to a local recycling center.


It occurred to me that rather than waiting another week to take my several bags of plastic and glass to a recycling center, I could kindly invite her to accept my bags of recyclables as a donation to whatever her cause. Whether she was saving up for Christmas presents, buying her next week's groceries, or supporting a niece or grandchild's cause, I wanted to help. She allowed me to do so.


It took a few minutes for me to walk back to my place, load up the car and drive back to where I met her. She threw her two bags in the trunk and we were at the recycling center in a couple short minutes. I had the privilege of helping a woman who appreciated it and the planet.


Compassion Act number 894.

Seizing Opportunities To Make A Difference

It's bad news when you can't find your debit card. I take for granted that I can obtain cash when I need it without much prior planning. It was the day before Thanksgiving and I was due to go out of town over the long weekend. Time to head to the credit union to pick up cash.


Is it just me or does the properties of cash fit more with liquid than paper? I took out cash for the weekend at 10am. By 1pm, it was clear I'd forgotten to account for dropping off an early holiday gift, enough seaweed for the long weekend, filling up the gas tank for the drive, etc. Back to my credit union.


The good news about going to the credit union on Thanksgiving Eve is that everyone is using their debit and credit cards and are not wasting time inside banks and credit unions. Each teller was busy, but I was first in line. Yeah! 


Since I'd also lost my phone, I had nothing to do but look around.  And right before my eyes appeared an opportunity to make a difference. Turns out laws are being proposed to tax credit unions. Forgive my politics here, but I suspect that Big Banks are a little tired of competing with the large credit unions. The latter offer the same range of services, but without the high fees. With credit unions, the members are the owners. Your account is your share. No wall street shareholders waiting for big returns. That means lower fees, lower interest rates and friendly service. Bad news for big banks.


Adjacent to the teller was a set of postcards for members to take if they wanted to send a message to lawmakers. "Don't tax my credit union."


How many credit union members stop to fill-out the forms and send them? I have no idea. What I do know is that the teller saw me take it and fill it out while waiting and thanked me in a way that left me with the impression that only a handful of members take the opportunity to have a say in how their world, their banking, their lives will go.


Do you seize opportunities to make a difference politically?

Go Ahead...Say Something. The Value of a Compliment

Sunday, after brunch, a friend and I headed to a local coffee shop to continue our conversation outdoors. Although there are still a few days before Thanksgiving and stuffing, the coffee house was crowded with holiday decorations and customers waiting to order their version of perfect java.


While I waited in line, I noticed a mother and her two young girls ahead of me in line. The elder sister was about eight- or nine-years-old, in running shorts, sports slippers, tank top and pony tail. The  younger sibling of five- or six-years-old wore  rhinestone-studded inch-high sandals, a multi-colored skirt and blouse with wild hair hanging past her shoulders. They wore their futures. The eldest will star in a team sport, probably preferring 2nd best to standing out as number one. She loves the play of sport and the fun of it far more than the competition. The younger will be pursued by the opposite sex, but will be too busy pursuing her own artistic expressions to care whether a young boy’s heart is crushed when she chooses design school over high school sweetheart.


Of course, those are myI made up the stories based on all of two minutes of observation. What I didn’t make up was the freedom these two daughters were allowed by their mother. I’m not talking about the unrestrained freedom to ignore social norms or ignore manners, but the freedom to choose their own style and be their own fully-expressed selves.


I overheard them when they rejoined her. “I’ll have the bagel,” said the eldest. The youngest said something I didn’t make out, but with conviction. The mother, knowing her daughters, offered up a suggestion she thought might cause regret if noticed after the transaction was complete. The girls reiterated their choices and that was that.


It was moving to observe a mother with that much confidence. Only confidence can breed that degree of freedom. I watched them after our orders were placed. The relationship these sisters shared was stunning to watch. They genuinely allowed each other to be. No competition. No drama. No self-doubt.


Several times it crossed my mind to compliment the mother on nurturing independence of spirit. I know I’m not alone in noticing something worth pointing out, appreciating it, but then feeling as if it just isn’t my place to comment. I thought it would sound too weird to say, “Hey, what freedom you nurture.” Maybe I didn’t have to say it that way.


Something pulls me to get over my self-censuring ego’s need not to look out of place. I walk over, lean in and quietly share my observations about her daughters. I explain that I may have just made the whole thing up about their personalities, but that I can’t help notice the freedom she grants her to self-express and shine their personalities onto the world. It was touching.


She affirms my observations. “My eldest will want to wear shorts and flip flops even when other people think it is too cold. Some people ask me why I let them dress themselves.” She shared a few of the kinds of comments she hears from people who disdain too much freedom in children.  “Thank you for saying so. I really appreciate it.” That single acknowledgement was enough validation to do battle with creeping doubt that she ought press a little harder on the budding personalities to conform.


Compliments matter. Had I kept my comment, my observation and acknowledgement to myself, a few naysayers words might nibble at the mother's freedom and soon enough, her girls' freedom of expression as well. It was in the way the mother thanked me. I'll never know for sure, but I suspect she was considering whether to continue allowing her girls so much freedom of expression. And I emphasize that the weather, her children's demeanor and fashion style were appropriate and tasteful. It's just that seeing the two sisters allowed to be so unique from one another made the freedom clear. It wasn't just the absence of competition between them, but the exceptional degree of confidence they each possessed. Sadly, it is common to see a searching gaze in young girls needing to know they are liked, appealing and dressed "right."


I'm glad I took those ten steps across the coffee shop to share a compliment. Our words change lives. Share some.

Are Click-To-Donate Sites Worth Your Time?

Giving away someone else's money to a charity may sound too good to be true, but it isn't. There are a host of sites that specialize in turning visitor clicks into charitable donations. Websites such as Care2.com, GreaterGood.com, and TheNonProfits.com allow anyone, anywhere to generate donations to established charities such as Amnesty International, Nature Conservancy, Oceana, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure with a single computer click.


GreaterGood has given away over $30,000,000 dollars to charities through its click-to-donate site. This is money that has helped save and protect animals, the environment and people. It cost the millions of individuals who click on their sites nothing more than the few seconds it takes to put the site in their browser, choose a cause and click. However, it is definitely a numbers game. Sponsors agree to donate money for every thousand clicks. Many of these agreements yield only a dollar or two for every thousand clicks. In other words it takes more than a few city blocks of residents and workers to click on the same link to give away a single dollar.


While I'd much prefer that sponsors value my every click as worth a charitable dollar, is the value they place on it too small to be worth a few seconds of my time? Any charity I truly care about benefits more when I set up an automatic monthly donation of just a few bucks. However, there are still three good reasons to take advantage of click-to-donate sites despite the small individual cash impact.


First, something is something. Even if it takes five city blocks of people clicking to give a dollar to a charity, that's one dollar more than that charity would otherwise have. If just ten percent of America's more than 300 million people clicked a single click-to-donate site on a given day, we'd generate over $30,000 from sponsors even at the paltry rate of $1 per 1000 clicks.


These sites are open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Instead of clicking on the latest YouTube funny during those quick task breaks on the computer, give away a fraction of a penny. On Care2.com's click-to-donate page you can click fifteen different causes in less than a minute. It takes less time trying to think up something clever to post on Facebook or Twitter. Plus, for an extra half-second, you can click to share your generosity via Facebook. Now you've contributed to charity, given your social media profile a boost and spread the word about charitable clicking.


Sure, we know that if sponsors are paying the money, advertisements will be there. These sites know they have to strike a delicate balance between promotion and remaining relatively quick to turn first-time visitors into repeat clickers. They realize that forcing a newbie do-gooder to watch thirty seconds of advertising before they have an opportunity to get busy clicking is a put-off. They, and the charities they support, lose. If you don't want to click on advertising, don't. They want you to, but on the sites listed here, you click counts either way.


The second reason to click is that the more clicks a charity gets the more dollars they command from larger sponsors, grantors and foundations. When Susan G. Komen for the Cure can boast to potential supporters that they receive hundreds of thousands of clicks each day, those numbers translate into increased donations from other sources. The same thing happens with lesser known charities on TheNonProfits.com. There's a click-to-donate site to combat poverty in rural Mexico. As more site visitors click on that link, organizations can show that support is growing for their cause. Your click can impact funding from larger donors.


The third reason is my favorite. It just feels good to do something that makes a difference. Small actions taken by large numbers of people over large periods of time add up to a difference that can change the world. When we're a part of something larger than ourselves that impacts the world we breathe a little deeper, stand a little taller and shine a little brighter.


As the Care2.com website notes, most of their members are conscientious about making a difference in the world. They volunteer, are often pet custodians, purchase eco-friendly products and often donate their own money to causes as well as through click-to-donate sites. Tens of millions of individuals are helping charities with a few seconds of their time alongside more traditional routes to making a difference.


Check out a few of the sites listed here. Find one to bookmark. Click Every Day.


It's nice to have options.

As I sit at my desk waiting for a site to load, I open a tab, type in Freerice.com and start playing. In a few minutes I donated a couple hundred grains of rice.

A few nights ago, I sat at the dining room table, opened up a book and read for a few hours. I did not turn on the television, the computer or any other electronic entertainment.

I'm committed to living a life that becomes greener and more generous each day. However, I am human. Sometimes I waste. I enjoy the series House of Cards and have no qualms with sitting in front of the television and taking in three or four hours of continuous electronic entertainment.

Adventures in Compassion is not about turning anyone into a superhero of giving and greening. It's about recognizing our options for green living and charitable giving. The recognition gives us options.

We don't have to waste time, resources or opportunities. We can. Sometimes we will. It's just nice to have options.