The Compassion Tour

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Twelve communities throughout the U.S., one month in each asking people to write their concept of compassion in a notebook and leading group discussion on the topic. That's what the Compassion Tour is about. The tour began September 3rd in Keene Valley, New York. It stems from an endeavor I began over five years ago in Davis, California to bring awareness to compassion by asking people to think about it. The tour amplifies this endeavor, with each visit including speaking engagements, having already facilitated a few over the past weeks in the Keene Valley area.

Do Not Love Your Neighbor As Yourself...Yet

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Loving our neighbors as ourselves is one of the overarching spiritual laws of our time.  It is an irreducible commandment, intended to remind us that we are bound to each other by compassion. It seems obvious that such a way of life would be the panacea for all social maladies, including perhaps the deterioration of civilization itself.  If we are keeping our neighbors on equal par with ourselves and our families, then we are bound to build utopian communities, right?

Compassion and The Self

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As a young woman, I am often told to love myself. Love myself no matter my flaws or my quirks or what today's standard of beauty tells me to be. Love myself so that I may love others.

But loving yourself is hard.

Loving yourself means to admit your mistakes. Loving yourself means to accept your faults. Loving yourself means a constant battle with your ego- your defense mechanism, your protection.

A Few Definitions of Compassion

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I ask people in Davis, California to share their written concept of compassion in a notebook. The responses span different ideas based mostly on people's spiritual/religious beliefs or personal experience. Also being a college town, often people share from an academic perspective. I began asking June 3rd, 2009 and thus far have received over ten thousand responses. Here are a few examples of what people think compassion is from anonymous entries shared in the notebooks:

A genuine sense of understanding and the act upon it. 

Forgiveness and Compassion

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This week, I finished a book on the Columbine shootings. The piece was written by Dave Cullen, a New York Times journalist, who lived through the media circus that was the coverage of the massacre. The story uses hindsight to delve into many of the myths surrounding the shootings, the perpetrators, the victims, and the culture that permeated Columbine High School. The story is expertly told.