Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dirty Laundry

This story found on Facebook reminded us of discussions at the book study of Karen Armstrong's "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life"  at Oblate School of Theology.  What do we not know? Through what lenses are we seeing the world?

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look

April 25: Compassionate Story in Holy Books

Friday, March 29, 2013

Golden Rule Chronology

Thanks to San Antonio's 2013 Peace Laureate, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, for passing on this time line of the Golden Rule.  Here are some of the highlights; you can read the entire list here.

1000,000 BC   The fictional Fred Flintstone helps a stranger who was robbed and left to die. He says "I'd want him to help me." Golden rule thinking is born!

222-235   Roman Emperor Alexander Severus adopts the golden rule as his motto, displays it on public buildings, and promotes peace among religions. Some say the golden rule is called golden because Severus wrote it on his wall in gold.

c. 810   The Book of Kells, a gospel book lavishly illustrated by Irish monks, illustrates the golden rule as a dog extending a paw of friendship to a rabbit. 

c. 1200   Inca leader Manco C├ípac in Peru teaches: "Each one should do unto others as he would have others do unto him." 

1259    Gulistan, by the Persian poet Sa'di, has these verses, which are now displayed at the entrance of the United Nations Hall of Nations: "Human beings are members of a whole, In creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, Other members uneasy will remain. If you have no sympathy for human pain, The name of human you cannot retain."

1688   Four Pennsylvania Quakers sign the first public protest against slavery in the American colonies, basing this on the golden rule: "There is a saying, that we shall do unto others as we would have them do unto us - making no difference in generation, descent, or color. What in the world would be worse to do to us, than to have men steal us away and sell us for slaves to strange countries, separating us from our wives and children? This is not doing to others as we would be done by; therefore we are against this slave traffic."

1850   President Millard Fillmore, in his State of the Union Address, says: "The great law of morality ought to have a national as well as a personal and individual application. We should act toward other nations as we wish them to act toward us, and justice and conscience should form the rule of conduct."    

1903   Jack London's People of the Abyss novel denounces urban poverty: "The golden rule determines that East London is an unfit place to live. Where you would not have your own babe live is not a fit place for the babes of other men. It is a simple thing, this golden rule. What is not good enough for you is not good enough for other men." 

1922   Hazrat Khan's "Ten Sufi Thoughts" says "Although different religions, in teaching man to act harmoniously and peacefully, have different laws, they all meet in one truth: do unto others as you would they should do unto you." 

San Antonio nonprofit Hope for Humans named 2013 Neuro Film Festival Grand Prize Winner

Thanks to NOWCAST for sending us info about this compassionate San Antonio organization. "Hope for Humans, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in San Antonio that serves the northern region of Uganda, was awarded the 2013 Neuro Film Festival Grand Prize by the American Brain Foundation on March 22, 2013.

"The award-winning film follows Dr. Gazda and Hope for Humans Co-Founder, Sally Baynton, Ph.D., to a care center they established in Odek, a small community in northern Uganda, that has seen hundreds of children suffer from a neurological disease called Nodding Syndrome. Although there is no known cause or cure for this mysterious disease, Hope for Humans works to provide treatment to children, support their families, and explore possibilities for curing Nodding Syndrome."  Read more about it on the NOWCAST Website.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tune in to CompassionNET on KTSX-FM89.1 at 3:30 on April 2

Tune into KTSX Texas Public Radio FM 89.1 on Tuesday, April 2nd  to hear the peaceCENTER's Ann Helmke and Susan Ives interviewed about Compassionate San Antonio by David Martin Davies on "The Source." Starting on Monday, "The Source" will air Monday through Thursday starting at 3 pm. We expect to be on at about 3:30 pm. The show is also becoming a call in show, so here's a chance to ask questions -- or add your support. This is the media debut for San Antonio CompassionNET and we are very excited!

We do not Have A Money Problem in America

"We do not have a money problem in America. We have a values and priorities problem."
Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund


Anel Flores: "San Antonio is a super-loving city"

From the Katie Couric Show, 26 March, 2013. "More and more gay people are choosing to become parents, but not where you might imagine. You may think gay parents are choosing cities like New York or San Francisco, but the latest U.S. Census revealed that the city with the highest concentration of gay families is San Antonio, Texas. Erika Casasola and Anel Flores are partners raising two daughters, 18-year-old Jessica and 14-year-old Klarissa, in San Antonio." When asked by Katie, "Why San Antonio?" Anel answers: "It's a super-loving city.. . "

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Charter for Compassion

If you haven't seen this yet . . .

Step #4: Empathy -- Active Listening & Attention Span

During Step #4 of our study of Karen Armstrong's book, "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life," we spend a lot of our time talking about active listening. This Calvin and Hobbes cartoon raises an interesting point: what role do you think the fast pace of the media has affected our ability to pay attention to the words -- and feelings and actions -- of people in real life?

What do YOU need?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Step #5: Mindfulness -- House of a Thousand Mirrors

In session 5, on Mindfulness we have a five minute journaling exercise reflecting on this passage by the Dalai Lama: “When I became enlightened the whole world became enlightened too.

We recently found this folktale from Japan which makes a similar point:

Long ago in a small, far away village, there was place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the House, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Step #6: Action -- Coexist

This story taken from Buddhist Boot Camp is a PERFECT illustration for Step 6 of Karen Armstrong's book, "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" -- ACTION. We'll be discussing this at our next session of the book study at Oblate School of Theology on Thursday, March 21.

The streetlight turned yellow, so he stopped his car at the crosswalk instead of accelerating through the intersection to beat the red light. The woman who was driving behind him got really angry and started honking her horn. She was extremely mad that she missed her chance to cross the intersection behind him (and because stopping the car made everything on her lap drop to the floor: cell phone, makeup, and half a sandwich).

She was still in the middle of yelling and cussing at the man in front of her when she heard a tap on her window and looked up to see the face of a very serious police officer. He ordered her to exit the vehicle with her hands up and took her down to the police station to be searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, she was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal belongings. "I'm very sorry for this mistake. When I pulled up behind your car, you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing up a storm. But it didn't make sense... You have the 'What Would Jesus Do' license plate frame on the car, the 'Namaste' decal on the back window, and the 'Coexist' bumper sticker, so I figured you had stolen the car. My Bad!"

Step #5: Mindfulness -- "Worry is a misuse of imagination"

Video: If you could stand in their shoes

This beautiful video from The Cleavland Clinic speaks about empathy in a health care setting but has a message for us all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

UBUNTU: I am because we are

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?'''UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Step #5: Mindfulness -- The Fat Buddha

At each session of the book study of Karen Armstrong's "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" we end with a story. Here is the one Rosalyn found for Step #5, Mindfulness:

The holy Buddha was sitting on the side of the road when a handsome young soldier walked by and seeing him said “you look like a pig."  The Buddha replied “and you look like a god."  The soldier taken aback asked him what he meant be that. The Buddha replied that he sits all day contemplating god and so that is who he sees.  “You, my friend, must be contemplating other things."

Pilgrimage of Compassion: April 2 & 9

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pilgrimage of Compassion: Embody Compassion Dance Workshop

Sr. Martha Ann Kirk reported that throughout the day more than 80 people attended the Embody Dance Workshop at the University of the Incarnate Word, part of the peaceCENTER/CompassionNET Pilgrimage of Compassion. Here are a couple of videos taken towards the end of the day. We hope to have some still photos of some of the other dancers available here soon.

San Antonio ACTS HIV/AIDS Ministry performing a dance to "Patchwork Quilt" at the Dance Workshop held March 9, 2013 at the University of the Incarnate Word. Dancers: Robert Alexander Diaz, Denise Ezquerra, Susan Jones, Catherine L. Cuasay, Delia Segura and Maureen Leach. "Patchwork Quilt" is the version by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Dance lead by Terri Boggess at Embody Compassion Dance Workshop at University of the Incarnate Word, March 9, 2013 to "Ubi Caritas." The chant, sung in Latin, means "Where charity and love are, God is there."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Step #4: Empathy - Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?

This is the book that Karen showed us at the March 7th session of the Karen Armstrong "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" book study at Oblate School of Theology.  From the publisher:
"This best-selling, 32-page picture book has become a basic teaching tool that encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. As the pages turn, children learn the meaning of the terms, bucket filling and bucket dipping and discover that when they fill someone's bucket, they fill their own. This popular book's call to action is: Why not decide to be a bucket filler today and every day?"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Step #2: Empathy -- If a child lives with . . . .

Thanks to Daniel for providing us with this thought-provoking poem:

Dorothy Law Nolte
If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns what envy is.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.
If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.

This Saturday, March 9, at Incarnate Word!!!

This is the next stop on the San Antonio Pilgrimage of Compassion:

Saturday, March 9, 9 am to 4 pm. INCARNATING COMPASSION: Dance and Drama to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. When Jesus wanted to teach service, he dramatized the message taking a towel and washing feet. When Mariam wanted to claim and thank God for freedom from slavery, she led dance with tambourine in hand. Young and old are invited to a day of sharing and learning dance and drama. Come prepared to move. Free and open to the public. Marian Hall Ballroom, University of the Incarnate Word. Organized by Sister Martha Ann Kirk of UIW and featuring other prayer dance leaders from across San Antonio. Part of the peaceCENTER's Pilgramage of Compassion. Join us!  You do not have to stay all day -- come for as long as you can.

Step #4: Empathy -- They Came for Me

In an earlier post we included the mousetrap fable that we used in our study of Karen Armstrobg's book "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate life." That story tells in simple words what German pastor Martin Niemoeller taught us at the end of World War II:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, 
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. 

Then they came for the Jews, 
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. 

Then they came for the trade unionists, 
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. 

Then they came for the Catholics, 
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. 

Then they came for me, 
and by that time no one was left to speak up.  

Martin Niemoeller, German Lutheran Pastor

Step#4: Empathy -- The Moustrap

In session #4 (7 March) of our "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" book study being held at Oblate School of Theology we will be closing with this story, the mousetrap fable:

The Mousetrap

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall
to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered -
he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.
There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said,
“Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no
consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him,
“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do
about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said
“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you,
but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected,
to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house —
like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was
caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had
caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned
home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup,
so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the
clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.
So many people came for her funeral; the farmer had the cow slaughtered
to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

Step #4: Empathy -- Barak Obama on "The Empathy Deficit"

"There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.

"As you go on in life, cultivating this quality of empathy will become harder, not easier. There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You’ll be free to live in neighborhoods with people who are exactly like yourself, and send your kids to the same schools, and narrow your concerns to what’s going on in your own little circle.

"Not only that — we live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principal goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained. A culture where those in power too often encourage these selfish impulses.

"They will tell you that the Americans who sleep in the streets and beg for food got there because they’re all lazy or weak of spirit. That the inner-city children who are trapped in dilapidated schools can’t learn and won’t learn and so we should just give up on them entirely.  That the innocent people being slaughtered and expelled from their homes half a world away are somebody else’s problem to take care of.

"I hope you don’t listen to this. I hope you choose to broaden, and not contract, your ambit of concern. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all of those who helped you get to where you are, although you do have that debt.

"It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. And because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential — and become full-grown."

From a commencement speech at Northwestern University, 2006

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Step #3: Compassion for Self -- Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye

In the third step of our book study of Karen Armstrong's "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" (28 February) we considered compassion to one's self, and Rosalyn closed the session with this poem by San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Compassion Mindfulness practice: CDEFGHIJKL

Dr. James R. Doty, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University shares a morning mindfulness practice he does to be a more compassionate person. Every morning, he says, he goes through the acronym 'CDEFGHIJKL' to remind himself to be mindful. Compassion|Dignity|Equanimity|Forgiveness|Gratitude|Humility|Integrity|Justice|Kindness|Love

Monday, March 4, 2013

Step #4: Empathy -- Jeremy Rifkin Talk

In session four of the book study of Karen Armstrong's "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" that we hare facilitating at Oblate School of Theology (March 7) we will be discussing EMPATHY. This illustrated talk by Jeremy Rifkin explains some of the neuroscience: