1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions

We Are One!

Happy One-year Anniversary 1000 Speak.

#1000Speak for Compassion

Although 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion had its first link-up on the 20th of February 2015, the birth of our initiative was one year ago today!

January 12th was the day it all began, was the day around 200 or so people responded to the invitation to join us in writing about compassion on an unspecified day. In A Year of Compassion, for our link-up in December, I wrote about some highlights of 2015, so check out that post to see some of what we’ve done.

And remember our link-up this month is about FORGIVENESS. If you aren’t sure what to write about, check out our prompts post.

So we are one  year old, but we are also one in another way. We are over 1600 members, but all with one vision – to create a world filled with compassion, to feel compassion for others and for ourselves…

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On This Day of Memorial, I Choose Compassion

I know about the bad things, but I look only for the good things. The world is wonderful. It’s full of beauty and full of miracles.
–Optimist, Pianist, survivor of the Holocaust, Alice Herz-Sommer

The forties really weren’t all that long ago. I know this from the stories from during World War II my oma used to tell, sitting in her little basement, in her favourite chair. I used to listen and to imagine.

Wars continue and suffering goes on. We hope we don’t repeat the mistakes or the horrors of the past, but still violence and hatred and mistreatment of our fellow human beings persists.

On this day of remembrance and memorial, January 27th, it is important to mark the day: 70 years ago today the most notorious of all the Nazi concentration camps, where so much suffering and death happened, was liberated. this came after years of senseless brutality and straight-up cold-blooded murder on such a vast scale, hard for my mind to wrap around.

How do I balance all these images of man at his worst with all the good and the decency I know exists?

I am highlighting just such goodness over the coming days, here on my blog, for an initiative known as

1000 Speak.

I know I would be so much worse off if it weren’t for all the compassion I myself have been shown by so many. I have no idea what it is like for so many poor souls, still today and during times of such cruelty as mentioned above.

I use days like today to reflect on how lucky I am in my own life. Such “weakness and birth defects”, as a disability such as blindness would have been counted to those as callus as the Nazis, means I would have been seen as a mistake or a freak of nature, something to be hidden from view and worse, eliminated. I shiver every time I ponder this unsettling thought.

When I traveled with my brother and my parents to Germany as a teenager, visiting family for the first time, I had a chance to examine my feelings on what Germany meant to me.

So often, during a history lesson, the country and its people are attached to something so horrific. This, of course, does not mean the country deserves the stain that such a dark period in history often leaves.

People are decent and people are good. I have seen it. I have witnessed compassion of all kinds. I felt it in the people I’ve been lucky to meet here in Canada and when I met family for the first time there in Germany.

I want compassion to be a repeated topic we all discuss, not just the terrible stories we see on the news each night, but in today’s modern climate of this new century the stories heard on the news may be involving different groups of people, but the danger remains.

One Holocaust survivor summed this up: “It might be somewhere else, it may not concern Jews. It might be some different type of holocaust, but when you have people that are unsatisfied, frustrated, who lack a lot and have no goal, and someone comes and provides them with a goal, some sort of goal, they can unite in hatred.”
—Tomas Radil

This sounds a lot like what’s going on right now, in the world, with ISIS and other radical groups.

I stood on the spot of a concentration camp, outside Dachau, Germany. I was fourteen and I felt the gravel under my feet. I felt the cool June air of that dreary, cloudy day. I heard birds chirp.

I stood at the gates of this historic site. I walked through the buildings, full of photographs and plaques with dates and details for the site’s visitors. I listened to the information, but I thought about the human lives lived and lost there.

I stood in model versions of a barrack and of a gas chamber. I absorbed all I could of what took place, so I could leave and never forget, but I knew I never could.

These places truly do help you hold onto your feelings of compassion for others. I know it is difficult to let yourself think about these things and, in many cases, visiting the locations of where the worst of humanity was allowed to triumph, if even for a little while, is an uncomfortable notion. The two quotes from survivors I include illustrate the two things I am trying to get across in this post: the existence of compassion and the need to remain vigilant for the opposite of compassion that can and will still spring up if we let it.

I wonder still, all these years later, if I will ever make it to Poland and if I would be brave enough to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau site.

Death and suffering happened both at Dachau and certainly at Auschwitz.

I know people lost their loved ones in these places, now the grave sites and final resting places. I respect this and want to write about memorializing this as I write about all the compassion we must never stop feeling for one another.

It’s hard for me to speak about such outrageously cruel things, all at the same time as I try to speak about a movement for compassion through blogging. The latter is something I am finding comfort in and somewhere I feel I can use the most powerful weapon for positive change I have at my disposal. However, it is the best time to line the two up next to one another, to best show the contrast that can be seen and felt from horror to hope.

My oma was not Jewish and she did not speak on an experience she herself did not have. She spoke of “The Russians” in not such a warm way, not having been one of those prisoners to feel what it was like to be freed from hell on Earth in a concentration camp by their troops.

There are good people everywhere: English, Polish, Czech, Russian and German. I can’t quite grasp why people of any origin, anywhere could hurt another human being. It keeps happening and people who have suffered through a moment in history such as World War II will soon be gone and unable to relay their own experiences. They don’t want us left here to forget.

I listen to first-person accounts of a place like Auschwitz, a place of my nightmares, but once so real for so many. I know my sense of compassion is strong and growing stronger all the time, but I have to believe this feeling will grow elsewhere too.

Today… and when 2020 arrives and with it the seventy-fifth memorial, I will continue to write about such memorials so this world never forgets the horrors. Hopefully this allows that to increase our collective compassion for our fellow man.

For more on the seventy-year memorial and on the camp at Dachau that I visited, see below:





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My Voice Amongst the Thousands

A week after the attack on the French Charlie Hebdo I woke up to find a movement beginning and spreading across my social media and the blogosphere: 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

I have been watching the news every night, feeling helpless, and then I read about this campain,which started small only the other day, aiming hopefully for 1000 participants; now growing.

On February 20th the movement hopes to post as one on blogs everywhere, all over the world. I thought…hey, this is something I could do. I can write about compassion.

It may not seem like it, in a world so big, but even a movement such as this one can be a powerful tool. It feels good to band together, in any way possible, to say something and speak about the good we want to spread. This, in a world where so much hatred and ignorance seems to spread like wildfire every single day.

I know issues like censorship and freedom of speech and of the press are hot button issues in the world today. Again, apparently I can’t seem to just choose a side and stick with it.

Should cartoons such as the ones in this case even be created, if it is at all disrespectful? Should freedom of speech, no matter who it insults, be what’s most important? Should we think before we act?

I am writing this because I have the freedom to do so. I may not be writing anything particularly inflammatory or I might. It all would depend on who you’d ask I suppose. I don’t take this freedom for granted. As a writer, I know the power of the “pen” or, in my case and as is so often the case these days, the keyboard.

There has been great support for the Paris newspaper that was attacked. Last weekend there was a march in France for Charlie Hebdo. News media outlets all across the world have come out condemning the attack and I agree it was a seriously cowardly act.

Now, I know about writing and words and how the written word is clearly powerful.

“Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

This is bunk!

As for these cartoons:

I have enjoyed art as a child, but I can no longer see it. I have not seen these cartoons at the centre of this story.

I know there is not enough sense of humour around the world and different cultures take offence to things, widespread degrees of sensitivity.

I don’t know and can’t really speak on the issue. I don’t know what the need was, so strong of satire and freedom of the press.

Perhaps I wish every culture of the world could be on the same level to understand why one is so offended by something the other does.

I wanted to participate in 1000 Speak (which is now the official hashtag) because I believe compassion and understanding of others is the key.

Also in the news lately, at home here in my own country of Canada is another very disturbing story that has been on my mind.

It’s the issue of the lack of respect for females in our culture and in youth, on college campuses and it’s something I fear nobody, not students or grown adults who should know better, takes seriously enough.

It’s been in the news, for weeks it seems, but maybe it takes precisely the news media to make a dent in the problem.

It took place at the dentistry school, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A group of male students was caught posting horrible things on Facebook about female classmates. Such nonchalant discussion about drugging and hate sex are probably more common than I want to believe. I really do not know what makes anyone, at any age, think that is okay to think, let alone say about another human being.

Red tape. Channels. What is the appropriate way to deal with this and why has it been handled the way it has to this point?

It seems like this story has been going on for a while and just today I heard on the news that the cops finally received the information they requested to aid in their investigation. What would take the school administration this long? Were they dragging their feet?

Surely they have daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers. What is this pervasiveness in our society to downplay something so important?

I don’t know that writing can have any effect on these moral questions and serious events whatsoever. Perhaps, the extra news coverage on the problem at Dalhousie is just the thing, public pressure, to bring about just the necessary punishment for those involved.

As for the deeper questions of freedom of speech and expression I don’t know what will happen. France is in the spotlight right now, but it’s just the latest in a never-ending parade of headlines. Why can’t we all just get along? Ha!

I don’t always articulate my feelings so well here, but I wanted to jot down these two examples as I announce my intention of being one of those bloggers who plans to write about compassion on February 20th. I want to speak up along with others who intend on speaking.

There’s a lot being discussed back and forth over my social media today about how to best get the message across. I can’t promise I will keep up with all the social media avenues of awareness for this thing, but I can do what I do best: I can share my own unique perspective, on my blog, for the sort of compassionate world I never lose hope of waking up to find one day.

As I said in an interview I did on a blog just yesterday, I wish I could shake the world into seeing reason. I will continue to set my own small example of what it means to find compassion for all human beings and empathy for what they might be feeling or what has brought them to where they are today.

I will be one of thousands and that’s a start.

From a Distance – Bette Midler on YouTube