What might it have been like if the focus of recent pow-wows between world leaders been on love and compassion rather than on accusations concerning documented nefarious acts or negligent political responsibilities? It is interesting to imagine how news organizations and social media enthusiasts would have responded, for example, to the presence of renowned humanitarian leaders to provide input at such summits.
How amazing would it have been for someone such as the Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong, or Dr. Bernice King, to have presented during these occasions colorfully-designed Golden Rule Feedback Charts. These charts would have shown the potential results of certain destructive actions attributed to a given country, or to the individual leaders themselves, had such actions been taken against--or done unto--them. They would also have shown graphs indicating achievements in demonstrations of exceptional compassion and international community-building.
There are far too many topics and issues to suggest in this post which ones would likely end up on which charts. But I hope the point I'm trying to make is clear enough. It is not about staging a political reality show. It is about inspiring officials elected to serve as leaders to exercise enough courage, and steadfast commitment, to hold themselves and the populations they represent accountable for the quality of compassion practiced in the world.
The Redbird Series
When art is used to endow a common image with a specific meaning, it stands a chance of communicating important truths across cultural boundaries and political fences (or walls). With the creation of my Redbird Series, I employed the image of the North American cardinal to symbolize what I refer to as beauty standing its ground against horror. It may also be interpreted as compassion standing its ground against fear, hatred, gun violence, greed, apathy, xenophobia, guerrilla decontextualization, oppression, starvation, ignorance, and war.
In and of itself, the male cardinal is remarkable mostly for its striking crimson color which tends to delight many who happen to see one somewhere and which serves to attract the lighter brown-colored female. Its existential context reflects beauty and environmental sustainability. In the Redbird Series, its presence within different surrounding environments emphasizes different aspects of our 21st-century human condition.
The Redbird Series and other comparable works are my way of holding myself accountable for extending dialogs on climate change, America's opioid epidemic, and unyielding hostility between various communities. Beyond extending dialogs so they are not simply erased from consideration via omission from media broadcasts, I am dedicating a percentage of any sales resulting from them (for at least the rest of the year) to survival and recovery efforts on behalf of people battling wildfires in California.
It is my hope that this manner of utilizing art to speak compassion to power helps maintain mindfulness of why leaders are appointed, or elected, to positions of authority in the first place. It is not to play at being all-powerful political gods or to ensure the continuation of a single family dynasty. It is to serve that greater collective good which increases the potential for all to live with basic needs comfortably met on a daily basis.
We are, after all, not born to accommodate tyranny over our hearts, minds, bodies, or souls. We are here to confirm realms of love-inspired possibilities beyond such limitations.
Compassion and Accountability
No one should have to host a TV reality show to determine why it is important for leaders at every level to hold themselves accountable for the quality of compassion represented by their actions or lack thereof. Issues like the obliteration of diverse homelands caused by humanity's addiction to war, the resulting mass displacement and migrations, the current drought in Australia, and toxic waters killing fish in Germany indicate the kind of destruction reaped when we neglect to sow in every direction seeds of empathy and mindfulness.
By contrast, when we do, we have a better chance of witnessing triumphs like the rescue of the Thai soccer players. We stand a better chance of increasing both the legacies we hope to leave for tomorrow and the peace so many claim they desire to know right now.