"Avoiding sentimentalisation, religionisation, politicisation, commercialisation, and bureaucratisation of compassion. Going beyond health or end-of-life care focus. Interrogating the structures of suffering and compassion. Exploring critical mindfulness in the service of compassion. Building transdisciplinarity, transformative learning and civic engagement concerns into compassion studies. Creating a compassion learning ecology. Nurturing a compassionate future...one act at a time."
Suffering is a fact of our everyday life.
In spite of great technological and social advances, a lot of the suffering we see today is the result of the dominant model of development. It is outside those existential ones related to such thing as deaith or grief. Poverty and affluence, extremities produced and sustained by development, have their own distinctive trails of pain and suffering.
It is a model that has given birth to a violent, broken world with a huge community of victims, many of whom are children, woman and indigenous communities. We have created a world that is not only harming humans but also non-humans. It is destroying the shared biosphere, on which all living beings are dependent.
Some amongst us with economic, political and cultural power have robbed the dignity of others and put them put them in harm's way -- either by direct intentions or by the way we design systems. But the more serious concern is that how we -- you and I --'allow' all these avoidable suffering and deaths to go on
On one side, the mainstream development efforts are increasing the sites of pain and suffering, destruction and death, globally. On the other, we live at a time when there is an acute 'compassion-deficit' (if one is allowed to use a management inspired term). They feed on each other. These are structural realities and to reach out to those who need help, we need to look deep into ourselves as well as the structures that produce such realities.
We need a compassionate orientation to approach the understanding of social suffering in the world today. We need to unlearn and deschool ourselves to reach out in civic empathy and compassion. Understanding social suffering is critical. Understanding that we are all directly or indirectly a part of that suffering is urgent. But we need to be also aware of the serious misuses of our compassionate nature.
Because the world has turned everything important into commodities to be bought, marketed and sold, so has compassion been appropriated and used in many ways: getting people's attention (as in promotion or advertising) or humanitarian intervention (which are politically or geopolitically driven) or in improving personal/organisational 'branding' value.
To reach out to the many victims of a violent, broken world who urgently need help, 'authentic' compassion is critical for our survival. As the Dalai Lama once observed, it is the most radical thing anyone can do in a world where widespread pain and suffering produced by dominant social structures, or by one group directly or indirectly tormenting another, have been a norm. We need to do a lot of letting go and rethinking our approaches.
We need to engage with compassion , understand it, nurture it and engage with it for guiding our individual, collective, street or policy actions. We need to do all these urgently.
Compassion is the foundation of our mutual survival and well-being.