compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, RECK, respect, Uncategorized

We Need a Revolution of Connection

Do you ever feel a longing for connection? Real connection? More than another text or email, or even another casual conversation? In our fast-paced, screen-time-heavy world, it seems like we are drifting further and further apart from one another.

This is not to say that we have ever been that socially connected in my lifetime. A child of the 80’s, I feel like I was practically raised by the television – long before smart phones came along demanding our attention.

Perhaps there was a time when communities were closer knit, but it hasn’t been in my lifetime. Essentially, I find myself longing for some Utopian past I never knew. Or perhaps it never really existed to begin with. Who knows.

But here’s the thing. It sure does seem like we could reduce the amount of conflict in the world if people would just sit down and talk to one another. How are we ever going to work out our differences if we keep splitting ourselves into smaller and smaller factions?

We need a revolution of connection! Meaningful connection – deep conversations where we work through our misunderstandings and disagreements. This is the kind of connection where trust is built and where genuine community takes shape.

Our fast-paced, cold, indifferent world needs reflection on connection, a Renaissance of nuance, and a renewed unity of community!

And of course I feel compelled to add that as we undergo this revolution of connection, we must strive to treat one another with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Honestly, I find these qualities lacking in our modern world as well. We are all perfectly capable of treating one another better, but it takes self control and a determination of will. It begins with us wanting to do better.

So, find ways to connect with others in a meaningful way. Unplug. Get real face-to-face time with others. Schedule unstructured time with your family with no screens and lots of conversation. Go out for lunch and coffee with friends. Make time for connection.

Join a church, social organization or bowling league. Heck, join a group you disagree with and work towards changing them from the inside. Just get out there!

Real connection takes real effort, and it is worth it. It pays big dividends with regard to improved mental and emotional health.

So, answer your inner call – your yearning – for connection. Let the revolution begin! And you’ll be glad you did.

Love to you, always.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

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

The Antidote to Hate

In my last blog post, I made the argument that we humans as a species need to evolve beyond hate. Hatred simply does not serve us anymore. It causes death and destruction, and ultimately holds us back from ever achieving any kind of lasting peace.

When it comes to finding ways to reduce hate, we must be students of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness (RECK). When combined, these values can help us to reduce the hatred within ourselves and between individuals, societies, and cultures. RECK can, essentially, be an antidote to hate.

Let’s start with respect. While it is true that humans often respect their enemies, that kind of respect comes from fear of an enemy’s power. That’s not the kind of respect that I’m referring to. I’m referring to respect for life. We must first acknowledge that all life is sacred. All life has value. It is wrong to kill. We must have a basic level of respect for all human beings that makes us respect and value life. We must be able to say that everyone has the right to live in peace – even people with whom we disagree. This level of respect will help us reduce our hatred by at least a little bit, by at least enough that we don’t want to kill our enemies or those for whom we feel hatred.

Next, we must tap into our empathy. We must try to empathize with people for whom we feel hateful feelings in order to try to understand what it is about them that makes them perhaps hate us or feel malice toward us. Often, when we stop to think about why someone might hold negative feelings towards us, we think that surely it must be because they misunderstand us or our intentions. Perhaps we misunderstand them too! Perhaps if we got to know them better then we would not hate them. Upon reflection, we would probably conclude that they are ultimately not that different from us. They probably want many of the same things we want. Things like peace, life, love, happiness, security, and well being for themselves and their loved ones.

Now, we move on to compassion. Surely, we can recognize that all living beings suffer. And if we suffer then the people we feel hatred towards surely experience suffering too. Think about what kind of suffering they might have. It may be possible that we have done something to cause their suffering. We need to search within our hearts, and through our empathy connect with the suffering people with whom we disagree might be feeling. Our compassion can move us to want to relieve this suffering. Perhaps there is something we can do to help this person or these people so that they will not suffer so badly. If we help to reduce their suffering then they might no longer feel malice towards us. Or at least not as much. Compassion can help us to feel less hatred. Compassion can help us turn hatred into love.

Finally, let’s look to kindness. There is an interesting quality to kindness. It is this: when we are kind to people it makes us like them more. Have you ever noticed this? It’s true. When we behave kindly towards people we dislike or even hate, we come to like them better. Also, when we are kind to others it increases the chances that they will be kind to us in return. Kindness begets kindness. And so it goes, on and on, and kind acts build relationship and good feelings.

This is how RECK can serve as an antidote to hate. We must teach our children to have RECK for all, and by doing so, we can help them to love all people and help them not to hate. Also, if we practice RECK, it might help other adults to practice RECK in turn. And over time these positive acts will grow and multiply. Over time… years and even decades… we can continue to reduce the hate in the world until we have wiped it away for good. It will take time and practice, but it can be done.

Practice RECK for all. And you will see positive results in your life and in the world around you.

Peace.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, respect

All You Need is RECK

Have you ever come home after a hard day in the grumpiest of moods? You walk in the door, greet your family with a grumble, and then proceed to bark, snap, and maybe even yell at them for the rest of the evening?

Once you are feeling better, you might wonder why you treated them that way. After all, they are the ones you love the most and you might have treated them worse than you treated anyone else all day. “Next time,” you think, “I resolve to do better.”

Love is a wonderful thing. We are fortunate when we have people in our lives whom we love and who love us in return. But there aren’t really any ground rules to love, are there? We sort of have to make it up as we go along and we can probably think of some examples of times when we feel like maybe we weren’t loved properly. Perhaps our parents loved us, but they were highly judgmental of us. Or perhaps we had a romantic partner who loved us, but was controlling.

We need to be careful about love, because love done improperly can be harmful and a source of pain. This is where RECK comes in. RECK stands for respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. It can be helpful to roll those four values over in your mind while you are thinking about how you want to treat the people you love.

Personally, I believe that we should treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. And I believe most strongly that we should treat the people we love this way. This way, we will love them in a way that is tender and caring. We will love them in a way that heals and does not harm.

If you resolved to treat your family – the people you love the most – with RECK, then even when you come home on your very worst day in the grumpiest of moods, you will still be respectful, empathetic, compassionate, and kind towards them. You will still seek first to be gentle, because kindness and compassion call us to be gentle. You will not yell, or bark, or snap, you will give hugs and support.

The beauty of RECK is that it doesn’t simply say “love one another,” it tells us how to love one another. First, be respectful – don’t trample all over people’s feelings and concerns, have respect for them. Next, be empathetic – treat the people you love the way you sense they need to be treated, try to get an idea of what is going on with them. Then, have compassion – maybe the people you love had hard days too, maybe they need some tenderness and affection. Finally, and at all times, be kind – it can be challenging to be kind when we are in a bad mood, but it is possible – we need to learn to control our emotions instead of letting our emotions control us.

This is RECK. This is what it’s all about. Keep those four values at the front of your mind and I promise you that they will not let you down. They will help you build a better life – both for yourself and for the people you love.

With love,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

compassion, empathy, kindness, RECK, respect

Do You See All People As Equal?

I grew up in a small Middle American town and it seemed like there was always a lot of emphasis placed on social hierarchy. There was a lot of discussion about who was from “good” families and who was from “bad” families. People also seemed to struggle to elevate their station within that social structure. It seemed like people compared themselves to one another a lot. There was a great deal of concern about who was better than whom and why. People were ranked by the size of their homes, the clothes they wore, the type of car they drove, and on and on and on.

After college, I moved to larger cities. There seemed to be less of this – at least among my twenty-something friends. But it still existed based upon people’s ages and what types of jobs they had, clothes, cars, etc. It still existed within me, too. I found myself constantly comparing myself to others. Constantly wanting to do better, to be more, to “make something of myself.”

As I’ve gotten older – I’m in my mid-forties now, I’ve worked hard to shake off these types of feelings about myself and others. Now, I tend to gravitate towards or away from people based more on how strong of a connection I feel with them. I make an effort to decide whether or not I want to spend time with another person based upon the content of their character. I make a conscious effort to view all people as equal, despite all of the traditional markers I once thought I was supposed to use to measure people.

Recently, I started an interesting experiment. All day, every day, whenever I interacted with anyone I would say to myself “equal” as I looked at them. I would even picture the word EQUAL above their head. The results of my little experiment surprised me. I discovered that this practice caused me to slow down and take a deeper concern in people. Now, the server at the restaurant was not simply someone there to take my order and bring my food, but a whole person just like me who was equal to me in every way. They might be having a good day or a bad day. They have a full compliment of feelings and concerns, just like me. They are equal to me.

I found that the practice caused me to take more interest in people. I tended to engage them in more meaningful conversations. I wanted to get to know them a little bit, even if our time together was only temporary and maybe only to provide a service. My interactions were different. More thoughtful. deeper. More human.

Seeing people as equal to me has also been good for me in situations where the social hierarchy would place the other person above me. For example, with my boss or with respected members of the community. I’ve often found myself more at ease with them. I’m more apt to make a joke or tell a story. Again, to just be human with them.

This has been a healthy experiment. Letting go of social conventions and making an effort to see everyone as equal has not been the blow to my self esteem that I thought it might be. On the contrary, I have found that seeing everyone as equal has been healthy for my self esteem. If everyone is equal then I’m as good as anyone else. If everyone is equal then I can have more concern for everyone regardless of their class and when I care more about others I feel better about myself.

Do you view all people as equal to you? Do you view yourself as equal to all people? Maybe try my experiment and see how it changes the way you move through the world. Picture the word EQUAL hovering just above everyone’s heads and reflect upon how that changes the way you view them. Do it with everyone… the large person, the small person, the old person, the young person, and people of every skin color and style of dress. Everyone.

What if there was no social hierarchy? What if we all abandoned stacking ourselves up against one another? What if we truly treated all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness? All people treating all people that way. It might truly transform the world.

Peace and good wishes to you always.

Matt

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.

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