Syracuse, NY – November 17, 2016: Today, through the unanimous support of City and County Executive and Legislative branches, Central New York will be declared a Compassionate Community, at a press conference to be held at the Skä·noñh Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool, NY. The Compassionate Central New York Team, the driving force behind this declaration, chose this location because it is a significant demonstration of compassion at work in affirming the centrality of peace as an aspiration and goal of living in a compassionate community. County and city leaders were invited to participate in the event, along with the co-chairs of the Compassionate CNY Team, Dr. William Pollard and Dr. James Wiggins.
So what is a ‘compassionate community’? A compassionate community is one where the needs of all the inhabitants of that community are recognized and met, the well-being of the entire community is a priority, and all people and living things are treated with respect. “More simply, in a Compassionate Community, people are motivated by compassion to take responsibility for and care for each other.”
These are the words of Karen Armstrong, the force behind the Charter for Compassion. It’s from the Charter that the drive to create compassionate communities springs. Released in 2009, the Charter has grown into an international movement underway in more than 300 cities around the world. This includes at least 50 cities here in the United States which have been recognized as compassionate communities, working to improve conditions for all their citizens, whether it be issues of the environment, racial injustice and inequity, education, violence, homelessness, or poverty. Central New York appears to be the first community in New York State to endorse the Charter for Compassion.
According to Dr. James Wiggins, co-chair of the movement to declare Central New York a compassionate community, this is not an announcement of the formation of yet another new organization. Rather, Compassionate CNY is an initiative that aims to identify, elevate, celebrate and support the activities exhibiting compassion that are already happening in our city and county, such as Greater Syracuse H.O.P.E and the Refugee Alliance, and many others which often go unrecognized and insufficiently appreciated. This effort is aimed at changing the conversation in the larger community from negativity to appreciative support. “At the core of these efforts is an attempt to create a more compassionate world that can foster the kind of humane responses so desperately needed to combat war, poverty and injustice” said Dr. Wiggins.
Our civic leaders are calling upon all members of our community to embrace this goal and to work together to develop and apply compassionate solutions to the issues in our community. Reach out and help a neighbor; be respectful, kind and considerate of one another; acknowledge each other as fellow human beings sharing and caring for the place we live and working together to meet the needs of our community, families, friends, and neighbors for the good of all.