On compassion and co-existence in life, business and the web

2009 December 18

Minimize evil, maximize good!

 That’s how Umair Haque summarizes his 21st century strategy in four words.

 Short, to the point,  simple,  true.

There is a growing yearning for something else, for a new human touch, of do good and authentic reaching out in an alienated world, of using a language and attitude of collaboration, sharing and co-existing in mutual respect.

The following two campaigns have this common yearning. Both were born bottom –up,  and  have used the web to spread the word and  harness many others worldwide to join their wish and vision.

It is not only part of an emerging zeitgeist, but of an approach to life and businesses that can and should  be translated to the web as well, not just as a message delivery vehicle, but as a way of web life.

Charter for compassion was the result of Karen Armstrong’s 2008 Ted prize  wish. A cooperative effort to restore compassionate thinking and compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. As the world is becoming a global neighborhood, we should all live in peace and collaboration in it.

Karen is a British ex nun, a writer and thinker on the role of religions in the modern world. In 2008 when she won the Ted prize  and made a wish “I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.”

It became a movement. The concept was put online and the charter was crafted by people all over the world, drafted by a multi-faith, multi-national council of thinkers and leaders, who strove to change the conversation so that compassion becomes a key word in public and private discourse, making it clear that any ideology that breeds hatred or contempt ~ be it religious or secular , has failed the test of our time.

 In November 2009 the charter, a call to restore compassion to the center of morality and religions, was unveiled, with  a call to people all over the world to adopt it.

Free hugs campaign, an initiative that started in 2004 by Juan Mann, who landed at the airport of Sydney Australia, sad and lonely, envied all the people surrounded by hugging and smiling family and friends. Yearning for compassion, he grabbed a cardboard and wrote free hugs, 15 minutes later he hugged a sad woman mourning the death of her child and made her smile. In 2006 an Australian alternative rock band Sick Puppies, uploaded their song ”ALL THE SAME”  on YouTube, accompanying the Free Hugs campaign. It has received over 48,000,000 hits and had a huge impact.

The conversation era of Web 2.0 has humanized the web to become much more than just an interconnected world of computers. In a global interconnected web we’re all in the same boat, interdependent. We are at a tipping point where, at least as digital relationships go, it’s time to create a new pact of interactions with our digital providers because as the web increasingly becomes our habitat, we should strive for a more transparent, respectful and adapted relations.

The spirit of openness  and sharing is already prevailing on the web between people. Open sharing of content and managing rights through free common creative licenses , open code, crowdsourcing, bottom up creations – all indicators of the power of collaborative efforts for the benefit of all.

There is a growing dissatisfaction and apprehension of power struggles between the Goggles, Microsofts, Yahoos….. Over hegemony of our data, fear of privacy intrusions,….. 

New buds of old feuds being mellowed by new approaches can be seen through a terminology of neologisms such as coopetition and frenemy,  life forces yesterday’s adversaries to cooperate today for their business competitiveness.

It’s definitely a step towards the recognition that together we stand, our needs will be fulfilled and all will gain. Some just talk the talk, or walk the walk as a lip service and will be happy to disengage at the first appropriate moment, but some go about it with conviction and deliberation that stem from a deep understanding that times have really changed and new tools and approaches should be the order of the day. 

When your customers have changed, have become much more independent , opinionated, attentive to other customers’ conversations – reaching out an authentic  cooperative hand, truly turning customers to  partners  in a marketing dialog – is bound to ensure loyalty based on trust and authenticity.   

It can be translated to a new paradigm of relations with  providers, corporations and institutions. Food chains created around users where the user, for whose alleged benefit the whole food chain is created, will be taken into consideration as part of the benefit and fair rewarding of all participating in it. Creating new ecosystems, be it ad-hoc around a transaction, a user/client/customer/partner, an offering, a collaborative effort, a win -win situation that sidesteps  power struggles of big corporations on owning me.

This is the Icentered spirit- clean, open, green, authentic, transparent, and collaborative.A vision of an Icentered world where all parties embrace the culture, business practices translate it to new business processes, supporting technologies and platforms are implemented, semantics and semiotics change to reflect the culture and ethics become mainstream.

It is not a utopian dream. The buds are there. Sooner or later paradigm shifts are inevitable. Getting there is a gradual process. It has started.

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