compassion, empathy, kindness, RECK, respect

A Brighter Future is Possible

What if…

What if we worked harder to understand people and meet them where they are?

What if instead of struggling to have our own way we made space for others to have their way once in a while?

What if we all put the well being of others ahead of our own self interests?

What if leaders of nations would work harder to resolve conflict than to drive conflict to the point of war?

What if everyone treated everyone else with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness?

Humanity is so very driven toward advancements. Advancements in technology. Advancements in science. Advancements in medicine. It’s time that we make a major advancement in the way that we treat one another. Century of Compassion and RECK are about this kind of advancement. A brighter future is possible, and it’s going to take all of humanity learning to treat one another a little better.

Just as we strive never to accept the status quo with regard to medicine, science, and technology, we must not settle for the status quo with regard to how we treat one another. It’s time to raise the bar. We can do better.

This century is still young. There is time to turn it around. And we need to spread the word. RECK is an acronym that stands for respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. With these four key ingredients we can and will create a better tomorrow.

There is no need for war. There is no need for genocide. There is no need for starvation and other forms of human suffering. There are 7.7 billion of us living on this planet and we need to learn to take better care of one another.

We need to start from a place of respect. Respect others so much that you would never think of doing harm to them. Then, move on to empathy. Learn to empathize with others so that you want them to be well and have the same things you have. This will drive you to compassion. Have true compassion for everyone and help to relieve any suffering that they might be experiencing. Finally, be kind. Yes, kindness matters. We all have it within us to be able to be kind to all people, we simply need the will to express it.

Keep striving. Keep working for a better future. We’ve got this. We can do this! We can make a small difference every moment of every day by how we treat those around us and we can make a big difference over time by helping to spread the message of RECK.

So, join the RECK Pact movement on Facebook. Volunteer for a local charity that addresses a cause you are passionate about. You can make a difference. The future is in our hands. Onward.

Advertisements
Love, Tolerance

Why We Must Reject White Nationalism

The United States has seen an increase in White Nationalism in recent years. It is made manifest in the Alt-Right movement, an increase in hate crimes, and an uptick in hate and bias in schools.

Just because White Nationalism is on the rise though does not make it proper or correct. We must reject White Nationalism due to the fact that it is based upon a false premise. White Nationalism assumes that some group of factors ascribed to someone’s appearance makes them somehow superior to others who look differently. This is absurd!

Take skin color for instance. We know based upon scientific fact that melanin determines skin color. The more melanin you have in your skin the darker your skin color will appear. End of story. We can’t ascribe any attributes to a person based upon their skin color other than they have more melanin. The amount of melanin in your skin has nothing to do with your intelligence, your values, or anything else. I am a white male and to say that I am somehow superior because I have less melanin in my skin is preposterous and – frankly – silly. Therefore, White Nationalism or White Supremacy of any kind is simply wrong-headed.

We must all own the fact that all people are generally the same. No matter what our skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else, we all want and need food and shelter, we all want to love and be loved, and we all want to be respected and to be free to live our best lives. We are not so different. We should love everyone no matter what they look like, where they come from, whom they love, or  what their religion.

Look for the similarities in others. Find ways to empathize with everyone with whom you come in contact. I promise you will find that we all have a great deal more in common than we have in difference. Open your mind and heart to loving all people and you will find that we are truly one great sibling-hood of humanity. 

I say all of this and I must add that I do not and will not hate White Nationalists and White Supremacists. They’re not unredeemably bad people. They’re simply wrong. I believe that with time and with enough love we can change their hearts and minds.

Over time we will prove that we are all quite similar. Peace is possible. But it will take time and a great deal of love. So keep loving! Keep extending respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness to all people. The world will be the better for it, and so will you.

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion

compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, respect

How to Fix America

From sea to shining sea, The United States of America has a problem. We see it made manifest in school and church shootings, in protests that erupt into violence, and in small ways in confrontations on our social media feeds. America has a hate problem.

In recent years, we Americans have divided ourselves into smaller and smaller groups based upon a variety of factors from race to class to political affiliation. It is creating a growing us vs. them mentality that is pitting brothers against brothers and daughters against mothers. Americans are drawing lines in the sand and painting everyone on the other side of the lines as their enemies.

If our current pattern of behavior continues unabated the result will be only greater and greater acts of violence that could lead to an all-out civil war. There is no doubt that our divisions are pulling us apart from the inside. We need to break the pattern of violence and hate, but how?

The first thing we need to do is to stop making enemies of one another. I believe this starts by refusing to think of each other as enemies. The problem with thinking of people as your enemy is that you start imagining them doing all sorts of horrible things which escalates your internal hatred of them. Prophetic thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. realized that in order to maintain a nonviolent attitude we must not think of people as our enemies, even when they are in clear opposition to us. We need to separate the people from the negative value or principle we associate with them. For example, people who hold racist views are not my enemy: racism is my enemy.

We must fight the internal struggle to love all people regardless of what those people might think or believe. People can change and we need to give them the freedom to do that by separating them from the thing about them we oppose. We need to realize that we have more in common with everyone than not – even with people who are in opposition to us.

What I mean is this. We human beings really aren’t all that much different. We all want the same things. We want to be respected and loved, we want people in our lives whom we value and love, and we want sustenance, security and shelter. Yes, there are things that divide us, but there are universal wants and needs that we all share in common.

We need to continue to seek out the commonalities with one another and stop dwelling so much upon our differences. We need to have meaningful dialogue with people who are different than us and get past our differences to find our commonalities. The more we seek out the commonalities with one another the more we will empathize with one another and the more that we will care for one another. Through empathy and caring, love can overpower hate, but it takes time and meaningful dialogue.

Sharpen these four tools and keep them in your toolbox. They are respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

Show respect to all people – even people whose philosophies you oppose. Remember that you need to give respect in order to get respect. Give it freely and hope for it in return. Show that you are a big enough person to be able to have respect for all – even those who are in opposition to you.

Look for similarities between yourself and others in order to find ways to empathize with them. Know that empathy is possible with everyone. We are all human beings and we share so much in common. Know in your heart that you are more alike than you are different from every single person on the planet.

Reach out to everyone with compassion. Know that all people suffer. It is a simple fact of life. To live is to suffer and therefore we can all identify with and have compassion for the suffering in others. Having compassion for other’s suffering can cause them to reframe how they view you. Perhaps they will find you to be a good person and learn to love you.

Finally, move through the world with an attitude of kindness. We humans tend to undervalue kindness, but kindness can lay a foundation for all sorts of positive interactions. Entering into difficult conversations with a mindset to maintain an attitude of respect and kindness toward the other person can help you overcome a lot of obstacles and keep the conversation cool and comfortable for both parties.

So, there it is. America has a hate problem. But we can overcome hate by refusing to make enemies of one another and approaching each other with an attitude of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Love truly can overpower hate, but it takes vigilance and a great deal of self control. Keep on reaching out into the world with love and you certainly will change hearts and minds.

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion

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

Why RECK Pact?

It feels like eons ago now, but way back in 2005 I had the desire to create a new vision for our young century. The 1900s had been the bloodiest and arguably most violent century in the history of the world. There were more deaths from war and genocide than ever before in the world’s history. We were only half a decade into our new century and things weren’t looking much better. The United States was fighting wars on two fronts and many parts of the world were in conflict.

My plan was to help people take on a new vision for our young century – for them to envision a century defined by compassion instead of violence. This is how Century of Compassion was born. After several years working on Century of Compassion and sharing my vision, I realized that compassion alone wasn’t enough to change the ways in which people interacted with one another in any significant way that was going to lead us toward a brighter and more peaceful future.

I spent several months in the summer and early fall of 2017 reflecting upon what had been most effective in the ways we interacted with people through our Century of Compassion events. I came to realize that the crucial ingredient that helped to spark positive interactions with people was respect. It’s amazing. It doesn’t seem to matter who the person is or what their station in life might be, being treated with respect always seemed to elicit a positive reaction. Through respect, you can create immediate connections with people. I also learned this through my classes I have taught to school children. As early as ages 5 and 6, respect is a hot-button issue with people. Everyone desires to be respected and to be treated equitably.

Next, I considered what allows us to go deeper with people when we are developing relationships. This led me to empathy. People love it when you “get” them. Everyone wants to be understood. And to truly meet people where they are you must empathize with them. Empathy deepens relationships and leads to a clearer understanding of one another.

This led me back to compassion. After you establish respect and empathy with people, then you begin to have compassion for their suffering. Everyone suffers. This is a basic fact of life. I truly believe that it is impossible to have genuine respect and empathy for people and not have compassion for them as well.

Finally, I noted that interactions and relationships would inevitably fall apart if there was not also kindness built into the scenario. Ultimately, all of our relationships hinge upon the kindness and love that we share with one another. This sustains relationships. Without loving kindness, indifference develops and things eventually fall apart. Kindness begets kindness and thus our relating go on and on.

Tolerance and acceptance of one another also play a role in our relatings and relationships, but I tend to feel that these develop over time. They have to be built upon a foundation of genuine respect and empathy. Ultimately, everyone desires to be accepted for who they are. Everyone wants to be loved for their whole selves – for the good in them and in spite of that which they themselves see as bad. Everyone needs this kind of acceptance. And, starting from a place of respect and empathy heading towards compassion and kindness gives us a path to get there.

I realized that when I put the words in order by first letter I came out with the acronym “RECK.” When I looked up the word reck in the dictionary I was pleased to discover that it means “to have concern or regard.” It is the root word for words like “reckless” and “reckon.” How perfect that the word that stands for respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness means to have concern or regard! For truly, if we have concern and regard for other people then we should treat them with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

I launched a bit of an experiment by starting a RECK Pact Page on Facebook. Here, I call people to pledge to treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, regardless their differences. I also provide daily doses of inspiration to help people uphold their pledge. Please check out our RECK Pact Page and like it if you wish to agree to treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

I still believe a century defined by compassion is possible. And I believe RECK Pact is the path to get us there.

Thank you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion