Austin resident Lesa Walker volunteered in Kenya with CTC International in 2011 and attended a community pickup soccer game.
As a public health physician, working for more than 30 years with children with disabilities and their families, I have learned the importance of compassion. When we have compassion, we minimize our assumptions. We look deeper than face-value. We respect and welcome diversity. Through compassion, we enter a world of discovery ... walking along beside, being with, and sharing perspective and caring. We become explorers of the meaning of life. When we look for and find the sacred in ourselves, others and the Earth, we open the door to a rich life experience.
My commitment to compassion comes from a personal desire to address the world issues of peace, health and the environment. Global change ultimately depends on each of us and a critical mass of individuals choosing to make changes in the way we live day-to-day. I am convinced that world transformation depends on personal transformation in everyday life. I believe that positive change occurs when we each take steps in our own lives, and the more we practice, the stronger we become.
During the past several years I have been on a personal journey with the specific intention to practice daily “3D” compassion (caring for others, self, and the Earth). Each day for 2 years I journaled positive ideas and actions for “3D” compassion. These simple daily steps led me to amazing growth and unexpected adventures.
One simple action has a lot of power. One day I was sitting in Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, enjoying some tea. I knew I was on the lookout for actions I could do to care for others, self and the Earth. I happened to glance up and see a car drive by with the words “Comfort the Children International” on the side of the car. I took note and decided my action would be to look up “Comfort the Children” on the Internet and learn more.
I did so and also “Liked” the CTC Facebook page. It turned out that the organization was based in Austin. Several months later, I saw a Facebook post by CTC asking for volunteers to travel to Kenya to teach art to high school students. I answered that post and ended up travelling to Kenya for the first time. It all started from simple actions — noticing the car and learning more about CTC.
Another example from my journey: I’d always wanted to visit an organic farm. However, I put it off, thinking that I would need time to make a day-trip, etc. So, it didn’t happen. One day, I was driving in Austin close to my workplace and saw a sign saying “5 Mile Farm” with an arrow pointing down a side street. I drove past the sign thinking to myself that one day I would find out what the sign meant. Then, I realized I needed to do my action for the day. So, I did a U-turn and drove down the side street about a block. There I found an “urban” organic farm and met the wonderful owners. It took me only 15-20 minutes. I ended up volunteering on the farm for several weeks.
My daily practice of “3D” compassion has led me to my current life adventures. After listening to Karen Armstrong’s inspiring TED talk, I learned about the Charter for Compassion. During the past year, I have done extensive volunteer work for the Charter for Compassion International and the Compassion Games International.
Through signing the Charter for Compassion, becoming a Charter Partner, and volunteering, I have met and engaged with wonderful, compassionate people from all over the world. To help people practice daily “3D” compassion, I developed the “Compassion Relays” and created a free mobile app, “Compassion Today!,” which has been downloaded by people from 55 countries.
Having grown up in Austin, I have brought my interests home with the recent launching of “Compassionate Austin” as part of the Charter for Compassion’s communities campaign.
This month Compassionate Austin is hosting David Breaux on his global Compassion Tour. David engages people in the discovery and expression of their own personal definition of compassion. He has done this for five years in Davis, Calif., and now he is travelling to different cities. Through this simple practice, he has sparked compassionate initiative in all the communities he has visited. We welcome people to have a conversation with David, while he is here in Austin; he will be at the Amala Foundation and at the MLK day march and celebration at Huston-Tillotson University, having conversations on iACT’s Red Bench. Get updates at: https://www.facebook.com/compassionateaustin
One thing I know for sure: it just takes you and me and simple daily actions to create a world full of “3D” compassion. Join the adventure! Let’s “Keep Austin Compassionate!”