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

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

Acceptance, Love

True Love: To Be Loved Just As We Are

I believe there is a deep human need to be loved and accepted exactly the way we are. We all need someone in our lives to tell us that we are worthy, we are enough, and we are loved. I believe this is the kind of love that Fred Rogers was referring to when he ended his program with “I like you just the way you are.” He was saying you don’t need to do anything special to be worthy of love, you are loved just as you are at this moment.

This is the kind of love many of us get from our parents (and rightfully so). And – if we are lucky – we might just find someone who loves us this way to get married to and make a family with. I am fortunate enough to say that I am one of the lucky ones who is loved this way by my wife. I often say that it was my wife who taught me what love really was. By this, I mean a romantic love that is deeper than romantic love so often can be.

Before I met and fell in love with my wife I had girlfriends who might at some point in our relationship reach a point where they said they loved me, but that love always seemed to come with conditions. They might say things like, “I love you, because of the way you look at me.” or “I love you, because you treat me so well.” Their love also often felt like they loved me a certain amount, but they would love me even more if I could simply manage to change this one thing about me or that one thing.

My wife was the first woman who ever loved me just the way I was. And what was even more wonderful about her love was that the more she got to know the real me the more she loved me. She even loved me for things that I saw as weaknesses about myself, such as my sensitivity. She was able to look at those parts of me that I didn’t so much love and say, “You’re being too hard on yourself.” We all need that kind of love in our lives, don’t we?

I believe the kind of love and acceptance I have received from my wife has probably helped me grow into a better person than I might have otherwise been. That’s what acceptance can do. It helps us see the best in ourselves and think the best of ourselves and want grow to be even better – by strengthening our finer qualities. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but she knows this about me and loves me anyway. And that’s the point.

If my kids ever one day ask me what they should look for in a partner I will say this: “Look for someone who loves you for who you are and supports you in who you want to become.” To me, that seems like real love. True love. Love that can last a lifetime.

So, this Valentine’s Day I am grateful for my Valentine. Like her love for me, I love her just the way she is. And this Valentine’s Day and every day I wish for that kind of love for you – whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey. I wish you love that accepts you the way you are and wants you to grow in all of the ways you wish to grow. Happy Valentines Day.

With Love,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion