The centrality of relationships: Relationships form the context in which compassion
happens and also generate the energy that enables people to transcend violence.
As people acknowledge their relational interdependency and recognize themselves
as part of the pattern, they may be able to envision a wider set of relationships
and take personal responsibility for their own choices and behavior. In short,
compassion requires that people be able to envision their interconnectedness and mutuality.
The practice of paradoxical curiosity: Cycles of violence are often driven by polarities.
Choices about to respond to conflict are forced into either-or categories: you are either
with us or against us. Compassion involves the capacity to
rise above these divisions and reach beyond accepted meanings.
Paradoxical curiosity is a matter of respecting complexity, seeking something beyond what
is visible, and discovering what it is that holds apparently
opposed social energies together. It involves accepting Compassionate Cities Campaign
www.compassionate action.org/cities people at face value,
and yet looking beyond appearances and suspending judgment in order to discover
untold new angles, opportunities, and unexpected potentialities.
Provide space for the creative act: Compassion arises through creative human action
that happens out of the everyday and yet moves beyond what
exists to something new and unexpected. Because new ways of thinking may pose a
threat to the status quo, it is important to provide space for the
creative act to emerge. This requires a commitment to creativity and a belief that
it is possible to move beyond the limits of what is commonly accepted.
This quality of providing for and expecting the unexpected is well known in the world of
artists and needs to be cultivated in the work of compassion building.
Creativity opens us to avenues of inquiry and
provides us with new ways to think about social change.
The willingness to risk: To take a risk is to step into the unknown without any
guarantee of success or safety. For many people caught in conflict,
violence is known, and compassion is a mystery. Because compassion building t
ypically requires people to move toward a new, mysterious,
and unexpected future, it may be a difficult journey.