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

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

compassion, connection, empathy, Love, Obliterate Hate, RECK, respect

Election 2020: The Tale of Two Echo Chambers

I have been watching a LOT of news coverage this week and, for the life of me, I can’t understand why none of the major news media is reporting on the fact that this presidential race is so incredibly close, because no one from one side is listening to what the other side is saying. This presidential election shows in stark detail how every American now lives in their own personal echo chamber, with everything they already believe to be true simply echoed back at them through various media.

I have been seeing posts by people on the left saying that X number of people voted for President Trump even though they knew he was a racist, misogynist, xenophobic… and on and on. My response to that is NO, they did not know any of those things. People on the right don’t watch the same news you do, don’t see the same social media you do, and sure as heck don’t listen to the same talk radio you do. This country is incredibly divided and the way Americans consume media is only making it worse.

My mission in life is to think of, view, and treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness (RECK). And I make an effort to do that with everyone, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. And I have to tell you… no one who supports Donald Trump believes anything the mainstream media says about him. They just don’t. It doesn’t matter if the mainstream media says these things are facts. Supporters of Donald Trump listen to to Donald Trump, and they believe him. So, when President Trump says he has done more for Black people than any president since Abraham Lincoln, they say “Damn right!”

I think if any American wants to try to understand people on one side or other of the political divide then we need to start to consume some of the same media those people do. Otherwise, I feel like we are simply going to continue to misunderstand each other. And we also need to make a solid effort to stop vilifying one another. We are all Americans. We all love our country. We all want what is best for our country… we simply have different views of what that is.

Personally, I would like to see people come together and try to talk out there differences. I am fully aware of what a tall order that is, but I don’t feel like this level of division in our country is sustainable in the long run. And the more we see one another as enemies the more we will fight like enemies. And I for one do NOT want another Civil War.

Let’s keep working on ourselves. Let’s work hard on ourselves not to hate anyone. Oppose that which you see as wrong-headed, but make an effort to love one another. We can bring this country back together. We can reduce the divide. And reducing the hate starts in our own hearts.

Much love to you all,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion