Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seeds of Compassion, Day 1: What It's All About

At tonight's press preview I was able to get a better understanding of what, exactly, this Seeds of Compassion event has as its goal.

Here is a quote straight from the press release: "Seeds of Compassion is an initiative to bring world attention to the importance of nurturing kindness and compassion beginning with children and extending to all who touch their lives." Thus, the focus is on the youngest member of our society and radiates out to the rest of us.

An emphasis of the press preview was that as parents we already know that what our children learn from us is what they will imitate and ultimately radiate (especially during the first 5 years of life). Thus, if we treat others with compassion, our children will learn this from us and radiate compassion (and in turn will instill a desire to radiate compassion in others)!

"Now is the time to launch a global compassion movement, a sustainable effort that will raise people's awareness of the importance of compassion," said Lama Tenzin Dhonden, co-founder of Seeds of Compassion. "Together we can create a more compassionate society for the children of the world."

The first vision of what ultimately became today's Seeds of Compassion event started in 2005 as a discussion between Venerable Tenzin Dhonden, the Personal Emissary of Peace for the Dalai Lama, and Dan Kranzler, president of the Kirlin Charitable Foundation. Their vision was to focus world attention on the following:
- Our communities need thoughtful, creative adults who are actively engaged citizens.
- Our global society needs people equipped to communicate across cultures and address differences through understanding and collaborative problem solving.
- These qualities must take root in early childhood.
- When children build from strong foundations emotionally, socially, and cognitively, they can develop into compassionate adults.

Those of you who visit and read Multilingual Living Magazine already know and believe in the power of our children to change the world (especially the ability to communicate across cultures). You already know that our children truly ARE our future global citizens and ambassadors. However, the question is whether we are giving them the tools they need to go out into the world as empathetic adults and globally compassionate citizens of the world.

What are these tools? And how do we provide these tools to our children?

This is the whole focus of this 5-day event. There isn't necessarily one, specific answer which we all can follow. But the hope is that by getting a number of experts together, we may be able to discover some basic truths.

One place to start looking for answers is in the brains of children. This will be the topic for tomorrow's Seeds of Compassionate events. The following is from press material: "Recent research studies indicate that the ability to demonstrate compassion is closely tied to the brain and biology -- children demonstrate sympathy as young as three-and-a-half years of age. By the time a child turns five as much as 80% of the brain's architecture is already developed. The formation of these neuropathways is profoundly influenced by the quality of the child's early relationships."

Who can truly understand this need for global empathy and compassion more than families raising children in more than one language and culture. You live with the need to embrace multiple language, cultures, values, loyalties every day! Whether you are raising your children this way because you and your spouse come from different cultures or because you feel the strong need to instill in your children your own great love for global respect and understanding - either way, you get it! You understand this!

The next step is to ask ourselves what we DO to participate in the world as globally compassionate citizens. Our actions are what count in the end.


Clo said...

This is so insightful...a great piece to think about. one question I would have in this discussion is, how do we reinforce the concept of compassion toward our children when the environment is culturally geared for individuality? In other words, how can we make sure that our example suffices, when everyone else around us is indeed thinking in much more individualistic terms?

Corey said...

Gosh, GREAT questions! I think so much of what the Dalai Lama teaches IS about having to go against the main grain of society sometimes. I can see so many times when my focus on me as an individual gave me the courage to do what was right (vs following what society wanted me to do) but on the other hand too much of "me, me, me" starts to turn a society into a battleground! Then it is all about just getting ahead, isn't it?
Well, if I can even speak with the Dalai Lama I'll make sure to ask him your questions! :-)
Hope you are well! Great to hear from you. Life just keeps chugging along, doesn't it?