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

RECK, respect

May Cooler Heads Prevail; God Bless America

It’s tricky to navigate the issue of the events that transpired yesterday in Washington, D.C. from the perspective of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness for all (RECK for all). It’s hard to hold everyone’s perspective in mind, because there seem to be so many perspectives. I want to open by saying that I mourn for the four lives lost; one woman was shot by Capitol Police and three people died from undisclosed emergency medical situations. I am deeply saddened by all of this. May they rest in peace.

Next, I want to say that we are all Americans. We all love our country, and we all want what is best for it. While I will always condone nonviolent protest as a form of free speech, I must admit that I believe that entering the Capitol Building was taking things too far. Sadly, I believe that January 6, 2021 will be viewed as a dark day in U.S. history, by future generations.

Standing back and making an effort to view this situation with objectivity, I believe that it’s time for us to call for everyone to treat one another with more respect. As Americans, we should have respect for our democratic institutions. We should have respect for one another. Let’s make an effort not to demonize one another. We are not enemies. Again, we are all Americans.

In times of deep unrest in seems almost comical to speak about love. But the facts are the facts and they do not change. The fact has been and remains that we should all make a greater effort to love one another. We need to look past partisanship and find ways to discover common ground. It was reassuring last night to listen to the proceedings on the radio once congress was back in session and hear our congress people working together for the good of the country. We need more of that.

Let’s let yesterday stand as the high-water mark for how heated things became in this Presidential election season. From here, let’s make an effort to cool things off. Let’s all work to help cooler heads prevail, and may those cooler heads be our own.

With love,

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

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, 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