A Global Chicago Practice Project
This was recently reported by a GoogleNews? daily search for "compassion" in world news reports:
...there is most definitely a connection between the practice of compassion and our capacity to move forward, even and especially in the face of huge "problems" like hunger and high levels of uncertainty, confusion, chaos and conflict.
In 1980, concerned about the implications of nuclear proliferation, Fran Peavey cashed in and check out and sat on the park bench with a small sign that read "American Willing to Listen." That was the beginning of more than two decades of social change initiated locally and globally on a wide range of issues. this public declaration of the Center for Corporate Compassion is inspired by her story, having already been informed by the love and work of ManyOthers? (hho, bliss, julie, proudman, koehler, stadler, fuller, engle, wilber, campbell, eliot ...). It is envisioned as a mutual venture of many individuals and organizations, initiated and convened by MichaelHerman.
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir menís blood .... Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency." --Daniel Burnham
The Center for Corporate Compassion invites people everywhere to notice that suffering, the direct and unavoidable wrestling with movement, change and uncertainty, is real and perhaps rising in our world. Suffering on the inside of people and organizations comes in the form of anxiety, stress, mistrust, fear, confusion, doubt and delay. Suffering on the outside of people and organizations is often associated with disease, dysfunction, deprivation, disconnection, and early or untimely death. The purpose of noticing suffering is to generate the focus and motivation needed to take whatever direct steps we can, individually and together, to dissolve it.
The most simple and direct step we can take is to cultivate mutuality, the practice of letting the conditions and experience and being of others be as real to me as I am to my own self. Inherent in this view and practice is so much of what so many ancient and modern teachers have taught about thinking, listening, feeling, sensing and touching. And when we are able to let another person or being be as real to us as ourselves, when we really see, hear, touch, feel how it is to be as they are -- without losing ourselves, our security and awareness of how it is to be ourselves, either -- we find compassion, love, joy and confidence arising within us. This happens immediately, naturally and automatically when we bridge the gap between ourselves and others.
(...can't be mutual as long as we insist on compressing, collapsing, contracting, twisting or constricting or otherwise shrinking and withholding ourselves in the world. )
As mentioned already, there are any number of very old and very new forms of naming and practicing different aspects of mutuality, the letting of some other be as real and important for us as what we understand to be the reality of some self. The self might be me as an individual or us as a department or nation. The other might be a customer, a co-worker, the neighboring community or the people of another nation or faith. This separation might also be understood as a disconnection between how I am feeling on the inside and what I am doing on the outside, or what we as an organization are saying in our plans or policies and doing in our activities and procedures. Wherever there is some disconnect like this, there is uncertainty about what the "other side" will do and this makes things difficult for us. Naturally, when we make direct and mutual connections across these gaps, our difficulties and suffering dissolves.
The Center for Corporate Compassion invites attention to suffering in ourselves and others, individually and in groups of all kinds. As Center, it serves as gathering place, discussion forum, support community, and balancing point for all kinds people to notice and create more of the stories and practices that are most effective in bridging our gaps and dissolving difficulties. It is Corporate in the sense that it works in the context of "incorporated" business and community organizations, but also because it integrates the body-based "somatic" perspective on the experience and function of both individual and organizational structures. Corporate implies a focus on how we embody reality, responsibility, function and power -- and marries that with a view toward love, caring and compassion.
The Compassion we are after is not a mushy sort of make-nice compassion, but a fierce and active sort of awareness and attentiveness. It's a thing we must make together, this view that cuts through doubt, confusion, disconnection and delay, these practices that raise our motivation and capacity for direct and effective action in the world. We are cultivating and collecting the formal and informal practices that create the connections that help us see clearly and act quickly, for the mutual benefit of many. As we notice and document more and more of these practices, we begin to see the connections between them, the essence that they share. We find more and more ways to Embody Compassion in our own Centers of being and commerce.
Our central question is this: What can we do to embody compassion, love, joy and confidence more obviously, frequently and sustainably in our bodies, organizations, markets and communities? We find many practices that support these things and we are noting and linking to them. But more importantly we are in conversation with real people in real organizations about this question and the local, individual ways that people are taking care of Life in the places where they live and work.
We are talking with people in one-on-one meetings. We are connecting and sharing information online, via email, WebLog? and WikiWebsites?. We are planning and facilitating meetings with OpenSpaceTechnology. We are asking StrategicQuestions, encouraging AppreciativeInquiry, and initiating AssetBasedCommunityDevelopment. We are learning to use NonViolentCommunication, evaluating ToxinHandling? in organization, and supporting NationalAndInternationalDialogue?. We are informed by ZapchenSomatics? and AustrianEconomics. We are noticing all of these things, and documenting them, but our real focus and passion is centered on talking with people about the things that they care about, the things they'd like to see happen, and the things they can do immediately, directly, personally and collectively.
We are offering and inviting our mutual attention to the uncertainty, complexity, conflict, and pressures that we are all feeling in our bodies, organizations and communities. These things show up in many many forms. As many or more different forms as there are many and different human forms. What all really effective responses seem to have in common is connection. Mutuality. Meeting. We want to making more of those meetings that make a difference.
How can we embody more of what is working to dissolve uncertainty, complexity, conflict and pressure? What can be done to generate and sustain compassion, caring, joy and confidence? What would you like to happen in your body, your organization, or your community? When can we get together?