Global drive for compassion has an ardent Berlin supporter
From the Lions Club to Kiwanis, UpBeat, Raising Berlin and many others, Berlin has become known for its civic organizations and the community service projects in which the groups’ members take part.
Now, a longtime resident of the town is looking to add to the list of those making an impact on the community by promoting the power of compassion, caring and forgiveness. Greta Stifel wants to make the town one of the first in Connecticut to join the international Charter for Compassion campaign.
Stifel said the campaign is “committed to building a worldwide network of compassionate communities” that will encompass a diverse “network of networks,” people from every sector — business, health care, education, government, faith and interfaith, peace and nonviolence, the arts and environmental preservation — who will bring compassion to everything they do and encourage the compassion of the general community for all of its members.
The campaign was introduced to Stifel by Scarlet Lewis, whose son Jesse died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown. Stifel said that by learning a new level of compassion, forgiveness and understanding, Lewis has taken a tragic time in her life and used it to spread love to others through the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation.
The hope, she added, is that kindness and understanding for one another through the campaign will help prevent similar tragedies, not just in Connecticut but across the globe.
“What it all comes down to is to just be kind to one another, giving back to one another and promoting acts of kindness,” she said. “It is my hope to engage all members of the community who work and live here.”
From a government standpoint, Deputy Mayor William Rasmussen Jr. said there was no official approval that would be need to be granted for Stifel to bring the campaign to Berlin. The Town Council has twice held off on officially endorsing the charter, saying it wanted to be cautious about backing to any organization over which it has no oversight.
On a personal level, Mayor Rachel Rochette and others on the council said they support what Stifel is proposing and would be willing to help out.
“We think it’s a great thing,” Councilor David Evans said. “We all want to be compassionate.”
However, Stifel, who said she will likely move forward with the project even without the council’s endorsement, made it clear that she would love the town’s official backing and support.
An example of compassion, Stifel said, would be a hair salon giving out free haircuts to people who may not be able to afford one. The goal, she added, would be for Berlin to jump start the campaign and have neighboring towns follow.
“This can paint Berlin in a very positive light,” she said. “Together, we can all make a difference in the community on a whole new level that has never been seen before.”
Central Connecticut State University: Campus of Compassion
Background About the Compassion Campaign
The CCSU Compassion Campaign is an initiative of the Forum for Contemplative Practices. The impetus for this drive began last year when, Western Connecticut State University announced that it had become a University of Compassion during the visit from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to its campus. The Board of Regents subsequently approved the creation of a Center for Compassion and Creativity on Western’s campus to promote dialogue, research and collaboration across academic disciplines and within the community.
Why should CCSU become a University of Compassion?
Humanity continues to face enormous problems including terrorism, violence, extreme poverty, and environmental deterioration. Even in our own state of Connecticut, with strong and vibrant communities, we are home to pockets of extreme poverty, epidemic levels of drug and alcohol addiction, sex trafficking, and one of the most horrific school shootings in the world. CCSU needs to take a leadership role to find solutions to these serious problems.
Becoming a University of Compassion will promote CCSU’s mission. An increased focus on others’ well-being will help build a strong community of learners, motivate outreach, and enhance citizenship and cultural/global awareness.