caring, connection

What Mass Shooters Forget

Over the weekend we had another mass shooting. This time in Buffalo New York at a grocery store in a mostly Black neighborhood. The shooter was a racially motivated young white man in body armor. It was tragic. It was senseless. And I’m going to argue that it was preventable, but not in the way you might think.

See, here’s my perspective: Each day I see people in the media working to divide us and divide us and divide us. But you know what? We’re all just one big human family and no differences that divide us even matter one little bit. In the end we all want the same things: food, shelter, and to love and to be loved.

I’m sure that shooter in Buffalo was hurting. I’m sure things had transpired that had made him feel horrible about himself and his life. I’m sure that somewhere along the way he forgot the same thing that all of these mass killers forget. It is this: We are put on this earth to love and care for one another.

Think of all the things that shooter (who I won’t name) was missing out on. Think of how far wrong his life had gone. He’d become so warped that he had forgotten that he should have been spending his Saturday helping people in his own community instead of driving for hours to hurt people in another community. He’d forgotten his responsibility to others. He had forgotten our common humanity.

We are all human beings. We all share a common humanity. We need to stop letting our little differences separate us. There is no “us” and “them,” there is just us. We all are all we have. This is a true fact whether or not you believe in a higher power. We can pray to our higher power or powers and still it is us as individuals who need to act to care for one another and be there for one another.

Mass shooters have it all wrong. They are mentally ill based upon the very fact that they no longer see the humanity in other human beings. Anyone who sees people as anything less than beings to be loved and cared for is living in a very dark place in their mind indeed. They need help. They need help remembering that we all have inherent worth and dignity. They need help to love again. They need help to return to their proper senses.

Yes, mass killings of any scale are highly preventable. They will stop when we all learn to put our petty differences aside and love one another. They will stop when traditional and social media learn to work to help people see our common humanity and how wonderful the world can be when we all work together.

You can make a difference and that difference starts in your own heart. Do your best to love everyone. Do your best to see the similarities in someone who might at first seem very different than you. Do your best to go out into the world and make a positive difference in the world.

Much love to you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, compassion, connection, empathy, kindness, Love, respect

The Core Four Will Change Your Life

What if I told you that you could have a happier life filled with lots of positive interactions and great relationships with all kinds of different people? What if I told you that all you need to do to have all this is keep four simple principles in mind as you go about your day? Would you be willing to give it a try?

The secret to having great relationships and building lasting friendships is these four principles: kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion. But the trick is to keep them in mind as you interact with all people, all the time.

Start with kindness. Let’s be honest, the world needs more kindness. Even a little kindness will go a long way with people. A lot of kindness will go even further. Kindness is wonderful for breaking the ice and getting to know people. It helps sustain long-term relationships.

Respect is next, because if you aren’t respectful towards people then most people won’t want to be around you. When you are respectful towards others they are far more likely to be respectful towards you in return. The best relationships are built on mutual respect. This respect compounds and builds over time.

Empathy is the key to unlocking connection. Typically, the people we are able to empathize with the best are the ones we feel naturally drawn to. The trick is to learn to find ways to empathize with everyone. After all, we are all human and by that nature tend to have lots of things in common – even with people who are very different than us. Always be looking for ways to empathize with people and you will be able to make great connections with all kinds of people all the time.

The last piece of the puzzle is compassion. When we have compassion for the suffering of others it brings out our hidden humanity. Everyone suffers. And everyone wants to know that their suffering is valid and worthy of compassion. When you have compassion for others they will come to love you.

Love. That’s what it’s all about. When we are kind, respectful, empathetic, and compassionate towards others we are in a place where love can flourish. Whether we know it or not, real friendships and real loving relationship are filled with kindness, respect, empathy and compassion… they are constantly swirling and engaging. In time, with luck, we can even come to accept one another. And loving people and accepting them exactly as they are, are the finest gifts that we can give.

Be well,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Uncategorized, Well-Being

No “Us” and “Them”

I’m approaching the age of 50, and over the nearly half-century that I’ve been living on this beautiful spinning orb I’ve been watching it shrink and shrink. Not literally, of course. But in wild and fascinating ways. Since the 1970s (when I was born) the economy has become more global and trade has connected the world in circuitous and complex ways. And with the internet and social media, it seems like the world has gotten really small compared to how vast it seemed just 40 years ago, in the 1980s, when I first woke up to the world.

Due to all of these changes, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Now, it seems like nearly all of Earth’s nearly 8 billion inhabitants are just a few clicks away. Increasingly, we are learning that all people the world over share more commonalities than differences. People everywhere want many of the same things: peace, security, food, shelter, water, good health, and opportunity. We all want to love and be loved. These things are universal.

For this reason, when we speak of “us” and “them” we are really referring to us and us. We all are human beings with similar wants and desires. And, as we continue to learn, we are all interconnected. The actions we take towards others seem to come back to us with increasing speed.

We need to cast off “us vs. them” thinking, because increasingly it is actually “us vs. us.” We all need to think of ways of being that benefit all people, because we all are affected by people’s actions. Increasingly, we are seeing mass migrations of people and this has to do largely with the fact that – thanks to social media – people can easily see and be constantly reminded that they could have it better somewhere else.

Individuals want to be in the places where they can have the basic things we all desire. These are the places where they want to raise their families. These are the places where they want to work. This makes perfect sense and is easy to empathize with. After all, we all are pretty similar. Chances are that if I want something for myself, others want that type of thing for themselves too. This makes sense.

Due to the fact that we are all so similar, due to the fact that we want similar things, due to the fact that the world continues to shrink, we all need to start to think of this planet being made up of “us” and “us.” People in far away places aren’t all that different from you. People who move to where you live from other places aren’t all that different from you.

With this mentality, we all can learn to see each other as similar and get along with one another. Let’s constantly look for the ways that we are all more alike than different. Let’s look for commonalities in culture and in ways of being. Let’s strive to love one another and be the kind of person for others that we would like others to be for us. Let’s make constant effort to be kind, respectful, empathetic, and compassionate… no matter how different someone might seem at first glance.

Things are getting better. The world is improving. Over the course of this century, the world is going to become less violent, less turbulent, more peaceful, and more prosperous. We will have a brighter future with us and us… all of us.

kindness, RECK, Values, Well-Being

If You Care And Are Kind Then You Make A Positive Difference!

Some of you might look at the title of this post and think, “Well, of course.” But there is a chance that this simple fact might not be obvious to you as it was once not obvious to me. Going back about 16 years, I got the idea to start hosting volunteer events each month as a way to help people make a positive difference in the world. My theory was that, like me, there were probably lots of people who wanted to do good in the world, but simply didn’t know where to start.

Over the years, I’ve come to see that how people simply move through the world makes a big difference in the lives of those with whom they interact. I think when I was younger I was more of the mind that only big acts made any real difference in the world. However, I have come to see that everything we do every day – the kind of person we choose to be and how we choose to treat others – makes a difference.

So, I have come to the conclusion that if you care and are kind then you make a positive difference in the world. If you care about others as you go about your daily routine, taking the time to really see people and really hear people, then I am absolutely certain that you are making a difference. A little kindness goes a long way, and spreading kindness as you go about your day has a really profound and positive effect on all of the people with whom you interact.

When we watch the news, I think we are often left with the feeling that the world is a really tough place and there are some pretty terrible things that happen. Yet, when we get out into the world we often see that it is a beautiful place and that kind, caring, compassionate, and loving things often happen. This is the culture that I wish to build upon and expand. And chances are that if you are reading this then you probably feel the same way.

We can contribute to and help build a culture of kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion by simply living those values in our daily lives. Sure, the big good things matter too. It’s good to volunteer at the local food bank and donate to worthy causes. Still, you can have a major impact on this world based simply upon how you interact with the people in your life. Be kind to the cashier, help your elder neighbor carry in the groceries, and love your family with all you’ve got. They’re worth it. You’re worth it. And the world is worth it.

Much love to you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Values

Ever Mindful of Our Values

We must remain ever mindful of our values. The best values are those that lift people up and help improve the world. They are the values that cause us to be good citizens and stewards of the Earth. They are the values that remind us that we have a responsibility to society, to the planet, and to future generations. These values include the 12 Essential Values of kindness, respect, empathy, compassion, acceptance, love, forgiveness, gratitude, integrity, equity, cooperation, and uplift.

Some values come at a cost; values like security, propriety, and control. These values often include some people while excluding others. We’ve all seen the desire for security become so extreme that it infringes upon people’s rights and pushes away people who mean us no harm. Or worse, those who need our help. When we exert our authority for what we feel is proper it often comes at the cost of the rights and needs of the marginalized and the oppressed. And the value of control can ruin relationships and even cost lives.

We have to stop and wonder what kinds of values are at play when children are being separated from their parents and placed into cages. We need to ask ourselves what we value when police officers are shooting unarmed civilians, and worse, often without accountability. What values are taking priority when we are closing our borders to people of certain religions or those from particular countries? What is the value that seeks to keep certain people in power even if it means overturning legitimate and fair elections?

Values matter. Our values guide our thoughts and direct our actions. One could even argue that our values are at the core of that which makes us who we are. For example, values like kindness and empathy can guide us in such a way as to make us seem as though we have a patient, caring, and loving nature. How we exercise our values dictates how we move through the world. Our values can even dictate what we are passionate about and what we are willing to fight for.

And so, be ever mindful of your values. And know that where your values lead, your thoughts, words, and actions will follow.

Be Well,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion