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How do we respond with compassion?  â â â â â âÂ

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ServiceSpace
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Dear ServiceSpace Community,

Coronavirus has uprooted the fabric of our lives. How does a heart of service respond to an unknown cause, how do we build resilience when we can’t be physically together, and how do we amplify lotus in the mud? With the backdrop of 20 years of holding such inquiries, ServiceSpace volunteers globally have sprung to action.

As one response, we’ve just launched: karunavirus.org Karuna is a Sanskrit word for compassion, and the website intends to amplify the voice of our collective compassion — by featuring news articles of everyday people choosing love over fear. Read below for a recent roundup of stories that simply renew our faith in life.

Uncertain times raise significant questions that can architect the arc of our future. Carbon emissions have dropped dramatically, but xenophobia is rising. Government surveillance is increasing, while global cooperation is going up. Shopping malls are empty, but family meals are on the rise. Awakening of compassion is pervasive, but the inequality of human suffering is evident. In a context of “social distancing”, neighbors lean out of their windows to sing songs together. Borders are still present, but the boundaries of our shared humanity are getting blurry. Yes, undercurrents of fear are everywhere, but so are prayers. Jack Kornfield recently shared, “The virus isn’t happening to us; it’s happening for us.” May we step into our highest aspirations to serve this inflection point in history.

To that end, ServiceSpace offers many virtual ways to engage, and we’ve initiated many creative experiments to serve the needs of the hour. Here’s some of them:

  • Be inspired: DailyGood, KarmaTube, Awakin Calls and more continue with gusto. Subscribe.
  • Engage: join one of numerous circles, from virtual Awakins to 21-day challenges to even dance. View Virtual Circles.
  • Brainstorm: as a follow-up to our “physical distance, social solidarity” dialogue, we’re hosting a global one on March 31st: what would love do? RSVP here.

In a recent interview, Terry Tempest Williams offered a courageous reflection:

“A good friend of mine said, ‘You are married to sorrow.’ And I looked to him and I said, ‘I am not married to sorrow. I just choose not to look away.’ I think there is deep beauty in not averting our gaze, no matter how hard it is, no matter how heartbreaking it can be. It is about presence, bearing witness. I used to think bearing witness was a passive act, but I don’t believe that anymore. When we are present, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed. The very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. A consciousness shift.”

Perhaps we’re in the middle of living into that new story. Imagine Italian airforce using Pavoratti, Spanish military doing acts of service, and street police playing guitars — to *inspire*. Corporations giving unexpected wage hikes. Canadians starting “Kindness Mongering.” Six year old in Australia adorably gifting her tooth fairy money, an 8th grader in Japan making 612 masks, and college kids everywhere buying groceries for elders. Cuba sending an army in "white robes" (doctors) to help Italy. A landlord allowing tenants to stay without rent, an Irish priest’s poem going viral, disabled activitists producing hand sanitizer. Imagine. Sometimes a crisis mirrors our deepest impulse — that we can always respond with compassion.

Lastly, a headline that made me smile: An aquarium closes, but penguins can now roam free. As one door closes, another surely opens up.

In service,

Nipun and the ServiceSpace Crew
Change Yourself, Change the World
P.S. For some non-Corona inspiration, a few stories from a January retreat: Gandhi 3.0: Vortex of Noble Friendships
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ServiceSpace is an incubator of volunteer-run projects that nurtures a culture of generosity. What started as a small experiment in 1999 has rippled into myriad expressions of service in dozens of countries around the globe. For more, watch a video on our unique design principles.
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