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, 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, 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, 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