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, 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

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

Love, RECK

How Do We Reduce the Hate?

As the United States presidential election enters the home stretch I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the high level of hatred I see present in our nation. It seems like as the election heats up so do people’s tempers and negative feelings towards their political foes.

As I was typing the headline for this post I imagined someone responding with the comment “GET RID OF TRUMP!” But that type of comment is exactly the type of thing I am referring to. I feel like I need to be honest and say that I don’t see all of the hatred coming from one side in this election cycle. There are people on both sides of the political aisle who like and follow our RECK for All page on Facebook, and I feel the upset of conservatives on our page who are aware of the hatred liberals have towards President Trump and feel as if it is directed towards them, too.

For my part, I wish to reduce the level of hatred in all people – no matter what their beliefs might be. Hate, as I see it, is part of the problem in this country. It causes us to become further polarized and seems to ignite a passion in people that causes a great deal of anger and vitriol. We need to work on ourselves. We need to let go of our hate.

As I see it, if we regard all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, then it is impossible to hate anyone. We can oppose philosophies while maintaining a level of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness for our fellow human beings – whoever they are and whatever they believe.

Let’s all make an effort – right now, while tension is at its highest – to cool our thoughts about one another. Recently, I wrote a piece about letting go of enimation, that can work here, too. We need to stop thinking of people as our enemies and imagining them doing all sorts of horrible things. We need to remember that we are passionate, because we all love this country. We all want to see the good old USA improve and become “a more perfect union.” We simply disagree about how to do it.

And then there is this. When we vilify people and paint them as evil, it marks the person. We need to learn to separate people from their ideology. Fine, you hate white supremancy. I get it. But we must learn to separate white supremacy from the people who exercise it. We need to allow room for people to grow. We need to keep in mind that people can change. We need to allow people to see the error of their ways and turn away from dark ideologies. People can change. People can give up white supremacy. That happens.

If you believe your ideology or belief system is better then make an effort to convince others of that. Sell the positive and ignore the negative. We simply must make an effort to let go of our hate or things are going to continue to get worse instead of better. Let’s make a greater effort to think of and view all people with respect, empathy, compassion and kindness. This will help us to see that people are just people and capable of change. Let’s all make a greater effort to love one another and do so properly.

Thank you and may you have peace.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion