Compassion: This is What We Stand For
NESA News Article, Vol.17/ No. 2 - Winter 2015
“No one is born hating another person. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” - Nelson Mandela
Last year I was planning an annual benefit concert for my chamber choir, Kindred, at The American International School of Muscat (TAISM). It happened to be scheduled on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so we knew we wanted the theme of civil rights to be woven into the program. And while focusing on the historical works of MLK, there was a need to include current efforts being made so the singers would feel a deeper connection. The search was on.
Later that week, a colleague showed me the Charter for Compassion website, www.charterforcompassion.org The Charter for Compassion transcends religious, ideological, and national differences. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world. Within minutes of navigating through the site, an overwhelming desire to be a part of it stirred in me. It was a perfect match for our socially engaged musicianship unit.
Having young children, little by little I realize the importance of supporting them with tools to cope with news about a troubling world. The same goes for our students. Sometimes it is tricky to address the dark possibilities when all is fine, but this is an ongoing responsibility. We cannot settle for an all-is-well approach, because how many times have we heard stories about teasing, being left out, or bullying creeping up on us when least expected? While these conversations are hard, they are crucial. The power lies in moments where we prepare youth with strategies to face adversity by taking the steps to practice compassion and give them a voice to say out loud, “This is what we stand for”.
Inspired by the website’s resources, Kindred made their own Charter video that was shown during the concert. The text was also printed in the program and following the concert, people were invited to sign the pledge. A banner hangs in a TAISM corridor as a reminder. Our hope is to continue these types of opportunities so that the concept is not a once-a-year experience, but a daily routine and resource we can turn to if needed.
Whether or not we make an impact isn’t the question. It’s the kind of impact we make. The ripple effect will be present regardless; it just depends on whether that impression is static or proactive. It’s the simple, tangible acts of mindfulness, kindness and empathy that resonate how love can be learned and, in return, courageous decisions can be made.
Start a compassionate community initiative:
· Introduce the Charter at an assembly; include it in a newsletter
· Have school community members create a video or poster about compassion
· Connect the Charter to a lesson, a class project, a concert, or any school event
· Sign and share the Charter
· NESA schools can become partners in the Compassionate Schools Network
Melanie Brink, Choral Music Teacher