Steve Sunderland is a professor of Peace and Educational Studies at the University of Cincinnati and founder of an inclusive Peace Village which emerged out of the inner city riots in Cincinnati ten years ago. His experience at peace making extends back to the civil rights movement in the American South and includes an active involvement with the Anne Frank Centre. Dr. Sunderland is the recipient of the King, Gandhi and Ikeda Peace Award from the Freedom Center and the Human Relations Award from the Council of American Islamic Relations. Here is Steve's contribution to: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays. I recommend you read this essay in conjunction with Ted Kuntz's An Agent of Peace and Joy and The Clean Souls of Egypt.
I will be making more visible my own vocabulary of compassion. The word, "compassion," rightfully touches us at some deep level. Even though we feel a definition, we acknowledge that some aspects of it as a concept and experience elude us. Toward the goal of casting light on the term, I offer the following:
⁃ Compassion must be welcomed into the open space between people and allowed a seat in the circle even though it brings only the power of good heartedness.
⁃ Compassion sometimes sits in the ear, a baseball glove like structure stretching out to hear the sounds of pain and hope.
⁃ Compassion wears the colors of all cultures and so is recognizable when, sitting in the warm sun, we see it first as brown, then black, then beige, and then golden.
⁃ Compassion is an invitation to dance, to move in public ways back and forth toward others, and with a smile of beckoning.
⁃ Compassion posses a secret ingredient, once tasted, swallowed and digested, causes the expansion of the heart in all directions.
⁃ Compassion is a holon, a part connected to other parts, forming both a whole and parts; at rest and in motion just as we might say that a hug comes from a person and is enlarged by the smile it receives.
⁃ Compassion avoids being stereotyped, categorized, labelled or branded. Indeed, compassion cannot be copied, reproduced, or bottled. Yet, how nice when compassion taps us again.
⁃ Compassion is a genuine apology, offered and advanced with no expectation.
⁃ Compassion is an inspiring teacher, holding class with our hearts in circle where acceptance, safety, and joy are the lessons.
These ideas offered in the spirit of friendship, the twin of compassion.
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.