Diversity in the Compassion Games - Survival of the Kindest

By Sande Hart

The Compassion Games finds compassion where it is, or is it the other way around?

And, where it is shows up in the most unique, diverse and creative places. It also shows up in the most mundane, usual and ordinary places too.

When the Compassion Games first emerged as a re-frame of competition as we knew it, the field was set for cities to put their days of community service in the ring and show who’s compassion was greater; irony at its very best!

Soon the playing field started self-organizing and organically expanding when interfaith groups took notice. Then we heard from schools, businesses and healthcare organizations. It soon became clear that we are diverse in our compassion and what a natural way to organize our Compassion Games than into leagues. At first we thought of them as “divisions’ like in the world of sports, but we all agreed that the word division sounded too divisive and the term “league” inspired more sportsmanship and cooperation.

While you can play in the Games year-round, the Annual Games are played Sept 11-21st to lift, amplify, and augment the great work already happening in that time around the world. Your acts of compassion are translated into points and reported on the Compassion Map, showing the world where and how compassion plays out. Adding the dynamic of “coopetition”, we are changing what it means to compete, or at least returning the word competition to its original Latin definition “to strive together.” But, make no mistake about it, players are fierce and committed to out-compassion the other and inspiring them to rise to the challenge.

As of this writing there are nearly 100 teams signed up to play all around the world in one or more of our 14 Leagues for the 2014 Compassion Games. What’s important is that we show our compassion where it is and when we play in multiple leagues, we show how interrelated our compassion is. We are also demonstrating how our compassion is universal!

Last week I visited the self-proclaimed “Compassionistas”, or inmates at the California Institution for Women Prison in Chino, CA to hear how the planning for their 2nd Annual Compassion Games were coming along. On a previous visit the women seemed intrigued with the idea of the game Free Listening, so I brought with me Kay Lindahl, author of The Sacred Art of Listening to lead them in a workshop. Now the women have added a Listening Station to their games, along with a Suicide Counseling table and a long list of creative and important ways to be and count compassion. However, it was two specific games that proved how the Compassion Games serve to heal and also inspire.

In a conversation with a representative at a Washington State School District who has put the Games on their district’s master calendar, I was asked for some ideas to implement and add to their already existing compassionate actions. I told them about two simple but powerful ideas the Compassionistas have come up with:

One is walking away from gossip and the second is stopping a fight. She immediately realized how the Compassion Games can help her school district accomplish their goals in their anti-bullying efforts -- make a game of it!

When Compassion Boss (Founder, Commissioner, First Follower, whatever you choose to call him) Jon Ramer invited me to write this article, I hadn’t thought of the Games relating in terms of diversity. I am not only a compassion activist, I also serve as Chair of the Board of Directors of North America for the global interfaith network The United Religions Initiative and also my immediate community as an interfaith activist. Diversity has always represented to me the essential need to celebrate the uniqueness as well as the common values of different pathways to create a more safe and harmonious world.

It also became very clear to me how our league diversity is as essential to our organic structure as it is in the world of interfaith/mutlicultural/racial relations. When we are strong in our own “League” we can inspire and heal one another. The Compassionistas did not set out to inspire a school district to improve their anti-bullying campaign, no more than my neighbor’s faith was designed to help me deepen the understanding of my own belief system, but that’s what happens when we are willing to be in community with another. When we play the Compassion Games, we get compassion-fit. When I am compassion-fit, my neighbor has a better chance of being compassion-fit also.

There are as many diverse ways to play in the Compassion Games as there are diverse ways to be compassionate. The Games make it necessary to have fun, use your imagination and get fierce with compassionate action. What matters is you notice it and share it. Our society has long discounted the critical power of our most subtle or even our very loud acts of compassion. My favorite game is catching yourself not being compassionate. You get 3 points for that! The definition of compassion loosely means noticing the suffering and having a desire to help heal it. That goes for ourselves as well. I would add, especially ourselves. We are then reminded that we have missed the mark and are willing to heal ourselves. Why 3 points? The first point is for noticing your lack of compassion. The next 2 are for the double compassion you are about to commit. You only get the first point when you complete all 3. There are days when I could account for 15 points.

When you share your compassionate action, compassionate contemplation, or even your lack of compassion, you are lifting the compassion in the world to counterbalance the chaos, fear and the lie that love cannot overcome. It is ever so necessary today to prove that collective impact through our diversity makes us stronger, compassion-fit and that Love does overcome.

Just stop and think about how many leagues your compassion effects: Cities/Places, Interfaith/Multicultural/Faith Based, Education, Healthcare, Womens/Girls, LGBT, Indigenous/Tribes, Arts/Culture, Family, Individual, Environment, International Day of Peace, Businesses and Animals.

Join us today at www.compassiongames.org and sign up as a team or as an individual.

Sande Hart lives in Rancho Santa Margarita, California and is the head coach of The Compassion Games International, chief compassion officer of Compassionate California, Chair of the North American Region of the United Religions Initiative and founding president of the women’s interfaith community building organization: Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope, known as S.A.R.A.H. Sande is a workshop facilitator and the author of Make a Difference 101, Community Service; A Practical Step-by-Step Guide for Kids and speaks to people ages 10 to 110 about realizing their personal power and impact on their community. Sande Hart is partnering with Wendy Silvers and the Million Mamas Movement to co-produce a global flash mob, intended to create a unified harmonic field of compassion on The International Day of Peace. She is passionate about achieving a cohesive and harmonious community and the importance of bringing compassion into the culture of our cities, schools and institutions in the manner of collective impact. To learn more, go to: www.sarah4hope.org


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This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 17: Summer of Peace - Compassion, Ebola and 11 Days of Global Unity