Activating new levels of compassion

In a December report, UNICEF labeled 2014 as one of the worst years for children on the record.  Between war, violence and the spread of disease, Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said, “Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

Watching the video, it’s hard to bear.  It is hard to fathom that this is what is in our world.  The leap from where we are to where we want to be may seem insurmountable.  I say the enormity of the situation is indicative of the great work of our time- Can we allow this suffering to activate new levels of empathy, compassion and creativity?  Like visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard, I say, that embedded within a  planetary crisis such as this is “an impulse of evolution that does know what to do.”  It’s been evolving life for billions of years.

There is something in us that knows we can transform, knows we can bring healing, beauty and love into the darkest places.  What it requires is courage to face those dark places.  We cannot turn away.  We have to feel.  And this means feeling the pain of the world.

As a woman who has given birth, I know how it feels to transform pain into the greatest joy.  I know that within suffering lies potential beyond knowing.  As a birth doula, supporting a laboring woman, I can witness her pain, hold it sacred, because I know the miracle in it, I know she is rising with the occasion; I know she can access her extra-ordinary power, despite the difficulty; I watch her discover a previously unknown, audacious strength.

I know that the seemingly unbearable opens the door to the impossible.  We have to get out of our minds, where possibilities are limited, and allow the impulse of evolution to awaken within us.  That is where we must start.  We have to feel the pain of the world’s children, knowing that within this, lies some hidden, “impossible” potentiality.

Contemplate what it means in your life to feel the suffering and the joy of another

 and allow your actions to arise from a heart cracked open. 

With new capacities for compassion, you’re ready to move into the world, advocating and creating change.  If 2014 was devastating for children, 2015 is a turning point.  Global activists and organizations see it as exactly that- the most important year for global decision making since the start of the new millennium.  You can get involved at Action/2015.

Bill and Melinda Gates also view 2015 as a gateway for change.  In their annual letter, they make a big bet, saying, “The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.”  They say one crucial factor in ensuring that this happens is people like you and me, lending our voices, and they’ve given us a platform called Global Citizen to do just that.  You can sign up at

Join the Charter For Compassion, visit my friends at Start Empathy, or get involved with local organizations.  There are so many ways.  And never discount the small ways that you bring light and compassion, with a smile to the check out clerk, with a hello to a neighbor.  Don’t discount the work you do in raising compassionate children…in doing so, you change the world.

You know what happens when a world full of compassionate people join together?  The unknown potential begins to take shape.


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