Recently I addressed a meeting for ‘Charter for Compassion’ in Richmond Hill (https://charterforcompassion.org)
Yes, you heard my introduction
An Indian from Africa educated in England and found success in Canada …made my little fortune … a lot of hardwork … Great learnings
It instilled values of self-reliance -Charity indeed began at home
But I was a lottery winner … being born right.
(Right place, right time, right upbringing)
Not a day passes when I am not humbled that my success was built upon the shoulders of so many who nurtured me and those that came before me
…Now for the past 16 years, I lead a life of service to others …
Realizing that adversities in my life of travels and business
Gave me that unique advantage ... that of empathy
Empathy – Of having walked in their shoes
Those that have not traveled… have only read one page of the book so said, St Augustine
I have an advantaged background
I have experienced many cultures traditions languages and values - Casting a much wider perspective
But the more I learn the more I realize how little I know
However, what I do know is that
We, humans, feel before we reason …We are emotional …
We are driven by competing forces of emotions
A Biological -PARADOX: Let us compare to extremes
Fear and Love
On one hand… Fear-based emotions of self-protection – fight/flight (competitive survival)
… And then the other kind of emotions of love, kindness compassion, and empathy (collaborative)- relationships
You see a baby with a mother… your heart melts
or wince in extreme pain of others
My belonging, my loyalties have been challenged and changed
So have my judgments which were built upon implicit biases,
prejudices, and stereotypes…. Verydiscomforting
Now I am becoming more comfortable … being uncomfortable
Because I no longer see our world in … black and white
Question - So what defines us and our boundaries?
Me; family; Nation; Gender; Race; Religion; …list goes on…
We readily take sides watching sports
– Us v them – Is this the beginning of polarization?
–Perhaps the ugly head of tribal xenophobia’s …
Evolution has shown us that …when we cooperate as groups
We are far more successful
Reducing inequalities for common good
Dare I dream for more worldwide equity?
As covid has shown us, we may all be in the same storm but we are certainly not in the same boat
– social Justice … gone missing
So …can our group boundaries NOT be extended?
…For benefit of all humankind?
A distant dream …’ Nonsense you say… ‘Pollyannaish … Utopian’
What really rules you say is ‘Power, Corruption and Greed’ …
I ran a business…Provided a product of value
My Mission statement did not say I want to get rich and powerful
But instead, it was to add value to lives of others
But being a realist …I remain well aware
That the very powerful …certainly have large predatory tentacles
Their Individual Egos often…overtake and overlook communal rights
So the big question is - Are we humans intrinsically good?
Moral compass comes into question
‘Do unto other…. ‘
That ubiquitous Golden Rule … Common to most Religions
And roots of Humanism … Show compassion - do no harm
So let me repeat … are we humans intrinsically good?
I the optimist…. say YES absolutely
As we advanced in history, often through common needs of trade and greater understanding
…. We Humans have become far more cooperative -More progressive and more globally interdependent.
It takes a village to raise a child – African proverb
In a short time, we humans have come a long way in improving and lifting lives of so many, out of poverty.
What keeps us from extending that hand of compassion?
Not only to our fellow beings….but also to our mother earth?
Ignorance say some … Apathy say others
The difference between ignorance and apathy
– ‘I don’t know … I don’t care’
Do we Build walls or do we build bridges?
The more the mango tree flourishes the more it droops – Indian proverb
Compassion indeed can dethrone the ego
After retiring, I have been Volunteering for past 16 years
And I started really living… Learning to go beyond myself
Today my past life, thriving Balance sheet … Looks rather pale
Compared to the high …. I get from helping others
True piety has to be love of others …
In the past decade I believe I have not only added years to my life ….but I have put life back into those extended years
I met many hearty people – Who make a meaningful difference
What can we do?
Chinese saying…Journey of 100 miles begins with first step
We cannot change the whole world
… But we can change ourselves and those around us;
Whatever the field we are in -Invest in Compassion
- Join hands / Listen more / be the connectors
- Create meaningful conversations
- Raise awareness/network within networks
Remember we need each other
Because it is in those bonds of love
……that we find a reason to live