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, 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

caring, compassion

It’s Compassionate to Wear a Mask

I’m struggling with the reality that wearing a mask during a viral pandemic has somehow become a political act. It truly doesn’t seem like it should be one. Here’s the simple fact of the matter: Wearing a mask will help protect others from catching the coronavirus if you have it (even if you are asymptomatic – meaning that you don’t know you have it, but you can give it to others). It’s not political; it’s medical science.

It’s the same reason that doctors and nurses have worn masks during surgery for a million years. They wear masks to protect the patient from their germs – not the other way around. Cloth masks are not worn to protect ourselves, they are worn to protect others from us.

Yet, somehow this fact of medical science has been politicized. Which is unfortunate, because here’s the thing: facts are just facts. They don’t pledge allegiance to a particular ideology or political party. They just are. And feeling like a fact is socialist doesn’t change the fact. It still is. And it’s not going to change simply because a person doesn’t like it very much.

And the fact that wearing a mask will help prevent you from giving the coronavirus to someone who might die from it makes wearing a mask an act of compassion. That is a truth. It is a truth based upon fact and it is unarguable. Wearing a mask says, “I care about you and I don’t want to make you sick.”

You might not like the truth that wearing a mask is an act of compassion and caring, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It still is. Caring about others is caring about others is caring about others. It doesn’t change based upon your political ideology.

Universal adherence to mask wearing will help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. That’s a good thing. That’s a fact. If we all pitch in and do our part we can help to keep each other healthy. Yay us! Go humans!

So, please don’t think of wearing a mask as a liberal thing or a conservative thing. It’s neither. It is simply an act of compassion and caring that says, “I am doing my part to help keep us all as safe as possible during this pandemic.”

If it makes you feel better to wear a mask with an American flag on it, then do that. You can get one here. But wear a mask. Help to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. Be a hero. We believe in you.

As always, much love to you. Be well.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion