Hugh MacKay appointed Australian Compassion Ambassador
The well-respected social scientist Hugh MacKay has accepted to become an Australia Compassion Ambassador. Hugh is the author of many books, his most recent is Australia Reimagined: Towards a More Compassionate Less Anxious Society, and we are indeed very fortunate to have Hugh as our inaugural ambassador. Below are Hugh’s thoughts on why compassion is the only rational response to an understanding of what it means to be human.
We belong to a social species, so our personal health and wellbeing depends upon the health and wellbeing of the neighbourhoods and communities where we live. We need groups – herd, tribes – to sustain, nurture and protect us, and even to give us a sense of identity (which is why we may experience anxiety, depression and other forms of distress when we feel “cut off from the herd”). If we are to preserve social cohesion, we need to develop the habit of treating each other with respect and compassion – especially those we don’t agree with, and those we don’t like much. Compassion is not an emotion: we don’t have to feel affection for those in need of our support. All we need is to accept that, being human, we are all in this thing together; we need each other. Compassion is the great antidote to anxiety: nothing steadies the emotions like the knowledge that someone else needs us. It is also the crucial ingredient in the life of any flourishing community. Compassion is like a bridge across the gaps that can so easily divide us – political, religious, ethnic, cultural, generational, regional, socio-economic. Once we understand all this, what alternative is there to adopting the discipline of compassion as a way of life?
Dr. Ursula Stephens, Foundation Ambassador
In 2010 the Australian Parliament became the first parliament in the world to sign the Charter. Dr Ursula Stephens, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, and Danielle Lauren held a historic recognition ceremony of the Charter for Compassion at Parliament House, which included representatives from the Government and Opposition, Indigenous community, diplomats, NGOs, religious and youth leaders.
Al Harris National Indigenous Advisor
Al Harris is the National Indigenous Advisor to the Australian Compassion Council. He is the patriarch of Wester Creation and is well known for didgeridoo playing. He is equally at home performing the traditional songs of his homelands as he is speaking to the world’s corporate leaders about inclusion, reconciliation and leadership. He has shared a stage with the likes of U2 and performed for the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. With his sons Tristan and Azlan Harris, Western Creation have toured the depth and breadth of this land they call home.