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Acceptance, Love

Jesus Taught Us to Accept One Another

We are in the Easter season. Ever since I was a young child I have always been drawn by Jesus’ message of love. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We find this message in other faith traditions as well. Jewish and Muslim Holy Books also call us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Over the course of my lifetime, as I have reflected upon this call to love our neighbors as ourselves, I have come to realize two deeper meanings intertwined in this message. The first is outlined in the New Testament. One of Jesus’ followers asks him, essentially, “Who is my neighbor?” And Jesus explains to him that everyone is his neighbor. As I have gotten to know people who are very different from me I have learned that Jesus meant that I should love all of these people, no matter how different from me they are.

This is how I came to realize the second deeper meaning wrapped up in “Love thy neighbor.” It is this: We are called to love our neighbor NOW, just as they are. Jesus did not say love your neighbor IF this or WHEN that. Jesus simply said to love your neighbor as you love yourself… even if your neighbor is very different from you. This is a powerful message of the acceptance of difference.

Jesus taught us that we should love everyone and love them right here, right now. Love them exactly as they are. Love them no matter what country they come from, what language they speak, whom they love, or what they look like. Simply love everyone. Love them for who they are and what they aspire to be. Love them with all your heart and all your mind.

Ultimately, Jesus’ message is not simply one about love, but one about love AND acceptance. So, this Easter season and always, let’s make an effort to love everyone exactly as they are.

Much love to you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, caring, connection

Countering Hate Speech with Love Speech for Asian Americans

Hi! Your average white guy here. I just want to take a moment to speak some love in contrast to all the anti-Asian hate we are experiencing in the United States. I’m this guy who promotes compassion and other values for what I see as the betterment of humankind. But I’m also just a guy. I’m a husband and a father.

About 16 1/2 years ago my wife and I got the opportunity to move out of our noisy apartment in one part of Los Angeles into a nice townhome in a nicer neighborhood. The new neighborhood was mostly Asian American. We thought it would be interesting to be the minority in an area for the first time in our lives, and we really wanted that townhome, so we went for it.

It has been one of the best decisions we ever made. The folks in this neighborhood are so friendly and nice. It’s the first time since I was a child that I lived somewhere that I’ve really gotten to know my neighbors and become friends with them. This community that we’ve been living in for over 15 years now is about 75% Asian. The other 25% is a a mixture of races and we are among a handful of white people in our townhome complex.

I simply want to say… for what it’s worth… that Asian American people are lovely. We have had a wildly positive experience here. It’s quiet. People are friendly. We and our neighbors often exchange baked goods and lend one another tools. I once helped free one of my Korean American neighbors from his garage when his garage door bound up with him inside, and his wife once brought me some delicious soup when she heard I was home sick with the flu. We’re neighbors, and we’re neighborly.

During the time that we’ve lived here, my wife gave birth to boy/girl twins. They are 10-years-old now and all of the sweet senior Asian American women around us treat them like their own grandchildren, often bringing them gifts at the holidays. I even learned a little Korean from one woman’s granddaughter when she was visiting. She was about 6-years-old at the time and thought this was an activity she and I could do while my toddlers (whom she’d been playing with) were napping one day. I have many happy stories like these ones.

Oh, I probably also could mention that our landlord is Chinese American. He’s a good guy. He’s quick to get someone over when something breaks and he keeps the rent reasonable. We exchange Christmas cards each year.

My Dad came to visit soon after our twins were born. He’s a country guy and really does not care much for big cities. He was impressed with how quiet our place is. He said, “Heck, my place in the country is probably noisier than this, with cars going by and what-not” (our townhome is set back off the street). He also made a point of commenting on how there is a lot of diversity in our city, but people are friendly and really seem to get along with one another. It seemed like it gave him hope.

I’m convinced that we need to counter hate speech with love speech. And in the midst of all the upsetting anti-Asian hate we are seeing in the news I felt like I am in a somewhat unique position to say something positive on the subject. After all, not all average white guys live in a primarily Asian American neighborhood.

Be well,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, Patriotism

Acceptance is the New Patriotic

How did intolerance become patriotic? This is the question I keep asking myself. Somewhere along the way, the new nationalism we are seeing in the United States got wrapped up in saving America for the white, straight, cisgender people (stay with me). I guess there’s a kind of conservatism in that. After all, for a very long time the dominant culture was white, straight, and cisgender.

However, the U.S. has become increasingly diverse – especially over the course of the last century. Now, white is well on its way to becoming another minority along with all the other minorities that make up our beautiful patchwork quilt of a nation. I’m saying this as a white, straight, cisgender male. It’s happening. It’s simply a fact. I’m fine with it. It’s WONDERFUL! Lots of different types of people with all kinds of different beliefs CAN live together in one place and we can all get along. This is possible.

This is why I am here to declare loudly and clearly for all to hear that ACCEPTANCE is the new patriotic. We’ve got to learn to be accepting of difference. This is the clarion call of our times. We can do this! We are becoming a more diverse and multicultural nation and that is a good thing! Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And diversity is the spice of the United States of America.

I love my country and I love all kinds of people. In my life I have met people of just about every race, creed, color, religion, ability, sexual orientation and so forth, and I have to be honest and say that I tend to really like all sorts of people. Actually, it’s rare that I meet someone that I don’t like. We, as human beings, tend to be much more alike than we are different. We really can find things in common with people who might at first seem very different from us.

I encourage all Americans to get out and meet people who are very different from them. Make new friends. Get to know people. Once you get to know people who are very different from you I promise you that you will like them. Heck, you might even love them. And that’s what it’s all about. Let’s aim at loving one another despite our differences. HECK! Let’s love each other BECAUSE of our differences. Difference is beautiful.

Come on people! Join with me! Make an effort to move towards greater tolerance and acceptance. If we are all to live in peace then we must all learn to be accepting of one another. And that is why acceptance is the new patriotic.

Much love to you all,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, caring, compassion, connection, empathy, kindness, Love, RECK, respect, Tolerance, Uncategorized, Well-Being

“The Delightful Dozen” Values for Wellbeing

The formula of Respect, Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness (RECK) came from a place of researching the essential things all people need in order to be well. The idea was that we should treat all people with RECK for the sake of their wellbeing and the prevention of harm. First I created a Facebook page called RECK Pact, which called people to pledge themselves to treat all people with RECK, all the time. This evolved into a rebranding of the page to RECK for All – putting the call right into the name.

Recently, I was reflecting upon how important tolerance, acceptance, and love (these three values come up in comments frequently) are, which led me to write this post. Around that same time, this reflection led me to rebrand our Facebook page once again to “It Matters How We Treat One Another.” This statement is an assertion I have made several times since starting our Facebook page and it always gets a highly positive response. This name change has received a positive response from the nice folks who follow the page.

Since making that change to the page I’ve been reflecting upon the all the things that help create positive interpersonal relations – all the things that foster good emotional health in individuals. So far, I’m up to 12.

Here are the Essential 12 AKA the “The Delightful Dozen”:

  1. Kindness – This is to have a basic level of tenderness for all people. It is healthy to be kind to people. It benefits and giver and the receiver.
  2. Respect – From granting basic human dignity to holding others in esteem. Often, I describe this as recognizing the fact that we all have struggled and we all have overcome hardships in our lives. It’s important to have at least a basic level of respect for people.
  3. Empathy – This is to feel with others. Our world would be radically changed for the better if we all made a greater effort to empathize with one another. Empathy builds understanding and even cooperation.
  4. Compassion – To feel another’s pain and desire to relieve that pain. Compassion is humanity’s greatest hope for a brighter future. May we all be well.
  5. Acceptance – To love people as their are. An acceptance of difference is akin to tolerance, so I have not chosen to list tolerance separately. Acceptance is tolerance taken to the next level of positivity.
  6. Love – This is to hold people close to your heart. Love creates a kinder and gentler world.
  7. Grace – This is basically to give people the benefit of the doubt. It is also the idea of believing that the individuals in our lives are basically good and well intentioned. This also includes forgiveness and letting go of hurt and resentments. Let others “off the hook.”
  8. Appreciation – From appreciating each person’s unique gifts to gratitude for the positive actions that people take, including the kind things they do for us.
  9. Integrity – People need to be able to feel like they can trust us to be truthful and dependable. It matters what we do even when no one is looking.
  10. Equity – Treat everyone as equal to you, neither above you nor below you. This is healthy for you and for them.
  11. Cooperation – Working together for the betterment of all. We don’t have to agree on everything in order to be able to cooperate and work together.
  12. Uplift – Joy, happiness, hope and humor. We all need hope and a little levity from time to time. Of course, it’s never appropriate to mock others. Everyone should be in on the joke. Humor can either lift people up or tear them down, so we must be careful with our humor.

That’s RECK turned to 11. Instead of looking at the most basic elements that everyone needs in order to be well, this is looking at all of the things people can do to help make others well and to improve our relationships.

I have to say that this is and has been a really exciting journey. It’s fun to think about all the things we can do to be well and help others be well. There’s so much suffering and struggle in the world, there is really no reason to compound it for one another. Let’s all help one another to be well!

Much love to you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, RECK, respect, Tolerance

RECK, Tolerance, Acceptance, and Love

It might seem silly to read this, but I spent almost 15 years developing the concept of RECK (Respect, Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness) for All. It’s such a simple concept, and I think some people look at it and say, “Yes, for course we should all treat one another that way.” But that’s part of what took so long. I spent a lot of time debating that which is essential that we need to give to all people, and that which we are realistically able to give to all people.

There are three elements that I’ve strongly considered including or did include in RECK at some point and time. Originally, I included Tolerance. But I discovered that tolerance is a fraught value for many people. Some people think of tolerance as too much to ask. Or maybe that tolerance also included tolerating ugly things like hatred and abuse. For others, they thought we should do better than tolerance; we should truly accept one another. Acceptance in beautiful, but can we accept child abuse for example? No. Most certainly not.

Those are the first two, tolerance and acceptance. The third value is love. Love seems like such a no-brainer for me, because I grew up admiring the teachings for Jesus and his concept of universal love. But the fact of the matter is that some people simply do not know how to love properly. Many people have been harmed by love that seeks to control or manipulate… harmed by forms of love that do harm.

So, here we are… RECK for All. Respect, Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness for all people. I often think of RECK as a pathway to loving people properly. Plus, respect combined with empathy and kindness can lead to greater tolerance and acceptance.

The more I think about it, and the more RECK is tempered in the fires of real world use, the more I feel like it is enough. It is good. Yes, let’s improve our tolerance. Yes, let’s be more accepting of one another. And yes, by all means, let’s make an effort to love one another better… and RECK is the tool we can use to help us achieve those things.

All the best to you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion