Tag Archives: #1000Speak for Compassion

I feel good!

A lot of good feelings and thoughts have been passing around the blogosphere in recent weeks including the #1000Speak for Compassion project and, closer to (my blogosphere) home, the Carrot Ranch with  Charli’s Mills’ flash fiction challenge and the responses by the Congress of Rough Writers.

Hearing these good things is good for my soul which could otherwise become burdened down by the cruelty that is experienced on a personal, local and global level.

Areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory were, over the weekend, devastated by severe weather, other states by fires, parts of the northern hemisphere by cold and snow. Nature itself is so destructive, why do humans think we have to add to it?

Many homes in Central Queensland were destroyed by damaging winds when the cyclone hit. In the early morning news the following day there were already reports of looting. It seems incomprehensible to me that people would do that to each other. Stealing from homes of those left vulnerable and sheltering in a community evacuation centre!

In the same bulletin there was a report about people receiving payments from the government while training to fight overseas for terrorist groups. The list goes on. The news media are not the best places for seeking uplifting stories or developing a habit of meliorism.

applications-internet

I turn back to my blogger friends for their stories of compassion and inspiration, and thoughts of how we can raise children to be kind, caring and compassionate.

My two most recent posts, Who cares anyway? and #1000Speak for Compassion, addressed the issue of compassion and received a number of comments which added more interest and value to the topic. Most of those who responded have also shared their thoughts about compassion on their own blogs, each post as individual as they. Here are a few links to get your reading started:

Charli Mills writes about Literary Compassion

Anne Goodwin about Compassion: Something we all need

Geoff Le Pard: Me, me, me; You, you, you #1000Speak

Sarah Brentyn: 1000 Voices for Compassion

Irene Waters: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion – mine is but 1

Sherri Matthews: How to save a life

Christy Birmingham: To Writers Who Struggle with Self-compassion #1000Speak

Lori Schafer: #1000Speak about Compassion: Through the Eyes of a Rat

I am very happy to belong to a community that values kindness and compassion. As at least one  blogger commented though, it may be difficult for someone who has not experienced compassion to express compassion for others. Compassion may be a natural feeling, but it also may need to be learned. It reminds me of those famous words, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” and also of a story shared by Lata on Hot Cup of Kaapi as part of the #1000Speak for Compassion project. (Note to self: Remember this!)

In my last post I shared two ways of showing compassion suggested by Daniel Goleman in his video Why aren’t we more compassionate?:

Pay attention

Consume ethically

At about the same time as I was reading these posts about compassion, I also read a post on one of my favourite educational sites Edutopia about Creating More Compassionate Classrooms.

The author of this article, Joshua Block teaches at The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, which you may recall I mentioned in a post about Chris Lehmann and Visioning a better school, a better way of educating. I was certainly impressed by Chris Lehmann, so I expected to be impressed by this article and its suggestions, and I wasn’t disappointed.

In the article Block talks about the Academy establishing an Ethics of Care as described by Nel Noddings. I am both embarrassed and disappointed to admit that I hadn’t previously heard of Noddings but I will be looking more in depth at her work in the future. So much of her work is pertinent to these discussions we have been having about compassion, including her understanding of the terms sympathy and empathy, for example. The article about Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education states that

“We learn first what it means to be cared-for. ‘Then, gradually, we learn both to care for and, by extension, to care about others’ (Noddings 2002: 22). This caring-about, Noddings argues, is almost certainly the foundation for our sense of justice.”

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Block questions how he can create a more compassionate classroom without adding to the demands already placed upon him as a teacher. He wonders what a compassionate classroom would look like and suggests

“A compassionate classroom environment is not an environment that lacks academic rigor. In this environment, students are understood to be complex people. Here, young people feel that they belong. Here, they meet challenge and encouragement while we ask them to be the best versions of themselves. Compassionate classrooms are places where student voices and student ideas are prioritized.”

I do like the sound of that classroom environment.

Block goes on to suggest six practices that help to develop that environment:

  1. Remembering to Check-in
  2. Informal Conferencing
  3. Increasing Personal Connections with Content
  4. Asking Better Questions
  5. Expressing Belief in Student Abilities
  6. Being Flexible and Accepting Failure When It Happens

I think each of these practices could fit under the banner of being attentive, of really tuning in to the needs of the students. They are all great practices that should form the basis of establishing any classroom environment.

Joshua Block has his own blog: Mr J Block: Reimaging Education and his article can also be accessed there, along with many other interesting posts and information.

Now back to the title of this post and my flash fiction response to the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about feeling good.

I trust that somewhere in Marnie’s life she had a teacher (or more) as compassionate as Mr J Block.

I feel good!

She stood at the door for one final glance. Not much had changed, but it felt, oh, so different. They were gone. Gone!

Almost twenty years had passed since she’d stood in this spot; since she’d fled their cruel ways. Twenty years of dodging shadows, double-locking doors, and fearing the phone’s ring.

But no more. They were gone. Gone! And for more than five years! Five years to track her down! All that remained was the house. She’d sell of course.

With the door closed behind her she almost skipped down the stairs, her heart singing, “I feel good!”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

Who cares anyway?

sad

There are a lot of things to care about in this world, and not least of these is each other.

What do you care about?

Your family?

The environment?

World peace?

Justice?

Equity?

Disadvantaged children?

The dolphins?

Climate change?

The Great Barrier Reef?

Plastic in the oceans

Sustainable seafood

Ethical shopping

This week I am joining in with the #1000Speak for Compassion project which calls on “Bloggers from all over the world (to come) together to talk about compassion, in one epic event on February 20, 2015.”

Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch is also promoting the project through her flash fiction prompt which challenges writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. In her post Charli refers to two words which have been raised and discussed by our blogging community recently.

These two words are:

Weltschmerz which was discussed on Anne Goodwin’s blog in a post entitled 20th-century lives: The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

and

Meliorism which was discussed in my post entitled How much of a meliorist are you?

Thanks Charli for explaining that Weltschmerz refers to “world pain” or the grief we feel at how the world keeps falling short of our expectations and meliorism to a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans.

Some of the items listed above are definitely cause for both weltschmerz and meliorism, but most send us a call to action. What action we take depends very much upon our beliefs and our circumstances. In an article in The Guardian earlier this year, Oliver Burkeman states that “World pain is bad – but numbness to world pain would be worse.

However compassion is more than weltschmertz (seeing the pain) and more than meliorism (believing that something can be done about it).

In this TED talk, Joan Halifax explains that

“compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is the ability to really stand strong and to recognize that I’m not separate from this suffering … (and that) we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we’re so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering. But … we cannot be attached to the outcome.”

In the talk Halifax explains that compassion is good for us, it enlivens us and makes us resilient, it also develops our immunity.

She asks

“if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don’t we train our children in compassion?”

In my next post, to coincide with #1000Speak for Compassion on Friday 20th I will be looking at some ways that have been suggested to answer that question. If you wish to add your voice to the call follow this link for suggestions of how you can be involved.

For now I will leave you with my response to Charli’s challenge. I have not tried to address compassion on a global scale but have thought smaller.

In her talk Halifax said that “compassion is actually an inherent human quality. It is there within every human being. But the conditions for compassion to be activated, to be aroused, are particular conditions.”

I wondered how feelings of compassion might be activated in the life of a young woman from an impoverished and abusive background.

Understanding

In the ‘smart’ outfit carefully selected by the charity shop attendant, Marnie was surprised how well the confident exterior masked the whirlpool of fear, anxiety and insecurity.

Without looking up, the receptionist handed Marnie a number and waved her to the waiting area.

“9”. Her heart sank. “That many?”

Avoiding contact and ‘contamination’, she squeezed into the only available space: between a boy slouching awkwardly and a girl picking her fingernails.

The girl started crying. Marnie stiffened, but glanced sideways. The girl cried into her sleeve.

Marnie breathed, proffered her unopened purse packet of ‘just-in-case’ tissues, and smiled, “Here.”

Thank you

 

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.