A compassionate world in the making

The spectacular Okavango Delta in Botswana, where islands are linked by the paths of creatures who travel back and forth, sharing the ecosystem in harmony - photo by E Jurus
The spectacular Okavango Delta in Botswana, where islands are linked by the paths of creatures who travel back and forth, sharing the ecosystem in harmony – photo by E Jurus

I’ve met many people who are reluctant to travel to Africa, largely because the news media feature just outbreaks of violence and other ongoing issues in some of the countries.

But that’s not all of what Africa is, so I was very pleased to read today in the Charter for Compassion newsletter that Botswana has become the first country as a whole to join the Charter.  

Earlier this month, the chair of Botswana’s National Vision Council signed the Botho Declaration, which outlines the ‘seven Pillars’ of the country’s strategy to continue to create a “competitive, winning and prosperous nation”.

The Pillars of the strategy would serve any country in the world well –

  • An Educated, Informed Nation
  • An Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation
  • A Moral and Tolerant Nation
  • A United and Proud Nation
  • A Safe and Secure Nation
  • A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation
  • A Compassionate, Just and Caring Nation

Details are available on the Vision 2016 website .

Having been to Botswana twice and having met/worked with many of its lovely people, I’m not surprised at all that the country is the first in the world to have dedicated itself to the cause of global compassion, but I think it’s highly ironic that a nation on a continent that many people fear to visit has joined the Charter before countries in North America or Europe.

The Charter for Compassion organization supports the ideal of having all nations follow the Golden Rule, something I support personally and have posted about on this blog. What a great vision to spread this concept around the globe!

You can read much more about the Charter on its website, and you can sign up yourself as an individual, or a group/organization that you belong to if you also believe that we can create a compassionate world. The website also features numerous resources for exploring.

At this time of year, when it’s important for those of us who have much to be compassionate to those who don’t, I hope this website will inspire you to think of ways to bring more compassion to your own life. Be kind to relatives as well as strangers, don’t look away from the homeless, help animals, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well.

How to quit worrying about whether you’re a good vs bad person

Elephant chasing water buffalo, Kenya - photo by E. Jurus

I’ve been preparing a workshop on living your bucket list for an upcoming group, and during my research I’ve run across a surprising amount of angst about being happy with yourself. Here are my thoughts based on personal experience:

1. Always take the high road – behave with grace under pressure, don’t sink to someone else’s level no matter what the provocation, do the right thing even though it might be difficult.

2. Accept responsibility for your own actions – you made the choices, regardless of whether your parents loved you or not as a child, whether you had a tough life…

3.Think about what you’re doing. If something upsets you, don’t have a knee-jerk reaction – walk away and simmer down first. If you react immediately, invariably you’ll regret your actions later.

4. Give everything your best shot. Putting your highest effort out is the way to avoid having regrets or doubts later.

5. Be considerate – whether you’re at work, driving, in a grocery store, even just living in your neighbourhood. More issues could be solved with simple consideration than just about anything else.

6. Allow people the benefit of the doubt. Everyone struggles with something in their lives, so Jack who’s miserable today may have an ill child, may have had an argument with his spouse, may be having financial difficulties, may be worrying about a mistake he made at work…

7. Live the Golden Rule: treat people as you would like to be treated yourself, i.e. with respect.

8. Smile – a genuine smile can overcome some of the toughest circumstances.

9. Treat people as if they are the best versions of themselves, and they will almost always live up to that.

10. Treat animals and nature as if they’re wonderful gifts, which is what they are.

11. Allow yourself to be human, i.e. to have the personality traits and quirks that we all have, but avoid both extremes: wallowing or arrogance.

12. Finally, understand that you won’t succeed all the time with the above tasks, and go back to number 11: realize that we’re all humans trying our best in an increasingly stressful world.