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Colaboration, Cooperation, Coopetition

By Sande Hart


It’s bottom up, top down, outside in, all starting from within.
Working in a circle in a sacred manner, we heal ourselves, each other and the world. Inspire, motivate, activate, celebrate; compassion in action.
Protecting and connecting everyone with compassion…

These are the first few lines of the Compassion Games theme song, written by Dina Rae Capitani, who credits the lyrics to Jon Ramer, founder of Compassion Games International.

Starting in 2010-11 in a competition between Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, the Compassion Games emerged, a chance to inspire each other to create collaboration in service through the dynamic of competitive altruism. Self-organized teams signed up to “play” each other (through service to others, self, or the world), count their compassionate action, and return to the World Compassion Map on the internet to report and share their stories. 

Along the way, mirror neurons fire, the Vagas nerve expands, and oxytocin surges through the veins of caring citizens all around the world. In eleven days in September we experience what Darwin wrote volumes about – We are a loving and caring species, and survival is indeed for the most adaptable and compatible.

In 2014 the Compassion Games grew 120 percent to more than 158 teams. They are organically organized into “Leagues” according to the constituencies they represent. Sixteen sectors have been identified, including Interfaith, Education, Health Care, Families, Women/Girls, Youth/Elderly, Cities, and Arts/Culture.  

The leagues that organized  so far made clear they want their own periods of play in addition to the traditional September dates leading up each year to the United Nations International Day of Peace, not unlike trials during the year leading up the Olympics. Because the Compassion Games serve to amplify work already happening in the world, the leadership team identified relative dates that would further strengthen existing efforts. This is why the Interfaith League plays during World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Compassion Games Partnering with World Interfaith Harmony Week

In 2010 His Majesty King Abdulla II of Jordan brought forth a resolution to the UN General Assembly holding the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week.  Prince Ghazi of Jordan states that the goal of this initiative is  “To co-ordinate and unite the efforts of all the interfaith groups doing positive work with one focused theme at one specific time annually, thereby increasing their collective momentum and eliminating redundancy.”

In November 2014, World Interfaith Harmony Week began partnering with The Compassion Games International to bring a new dynamic and creative spark to its already impressive initiative.

Understanding the dynamic of “inspired activism,” HM the King offers a handsome prize for an award-winning interfaith project. First prize is $25,000 and a trip to Jordan to accept the honor from His Majesty. Whether or not you are “going for the prize,” something interesting happens to us in a competitive position. All pistons fire for the most expedient, clever, dynamic solution to the win, and then we stretch just a bit farther, give a little bit more, go a tad higher, and reach deeper. 

Of sportsmanship, it’s been said, “Sports do not make us who we are; rather, they show us who we are.”  The same is true for competitive altruism.

When we are in a place of fierce determination to “win,” we start looking around at who can help us get there. We realize that we can go farther together than apart. When two people collaborate, it’s more like two universes collaborating. Each of us brings a constellation of resources, connections, skills, relationships, and experiences to co-create remarkable results. The Compassion Games provides a place for collaboration and cooperation, for competition, or what we like to call coopetition, to naturally expand and flourish, serving as the special sauce to make it all work brilliantly.

It is no surprise to any of us on the Compassion Games team that the interfaith community embraced this dynamic force of community building first and has led the charge since. When we play together, we come from a place of joy and wonderment. Play calls us to challenge one another to be the best versions of ourselves and of our faith, doing so in a way that is natural and nonthreatening, inviting, rewarding, and even fun.

As a “coach,” I get to sit back and watch team organizers expansive imaginations dance as they realize the spark the Games bring to their community. Through that the entire organization gets better, providing a safe space for groups of all sizes to self-organize, be creative, generous, and magnanimous in their execution. Many organizations inspire collaboration, but the Compassion Games offers something unique. They are designed to be peer-driven, grounded in your group’s or your own personal environmental needs, and totally collaborative. The goal is to be a channel of compassion that continues to flow and grow.

The process involves learning new ways of being with one another in the world. Honing our skills to engage more groups, organizations, networks, network of networks, and efforts for a mutually successful outcome. The Games remind us that operating in silos where we duplicate our efforts is not only nonproductive but can be anti-productive and even destructive.

Last month the Harvard Business Review published “Understanding ‘New Power’” by Jeremy Heimens and and Henry Timms. They suggest a new power is showing up in the world like a current. “It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.”

According to Karen Armstrong in The Charter for Compassion, “We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous, and dynamic force in our polarized world.” The CompassionGames Interfaith League, in partnership with the World Interfaith Harmony Week, is collaborating to provide a double dose of inspiration, reminding us of the power of our connectivity to one another and the urgent need to be that luminous force, arm in arm together. To participate in the Interfaith League, please contact Sande Hart.

For more about the Compassion Games, see TIO’s May 2014 article titled “Compassion Games – Survival of the Kindest.”

First Principles of Compassion

  • To cultivate a disposition of loving-kindness in respect in ourselves.
  • To exhibit that in how we approach each human being we interact with.
  • To commit to the service of others – in our neighborhood, in our country, even across the world.
  • To adopt an open-mindedness and generative, generous spirit that leads to a creativity in solving the world’s challenges

Taken from the Compassion Games website.