Parliament of the World’s Religions: ‘Compassion Games’ transform competition

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Attendees take selfies with the Compassion Games torch. The flame represents compassion and unity in the coopetition.  (Kjersten Johnson)
Attendees take selfies with the Compassion Games torch at the Parliament of the World’s Religions on Friday. The flame represents compassion and unity in the “coopetition.” (Kjersten Johnson)

Compassion Games, Survival of the Kindest, may be a competition, but all participants are winners.

“You can’t lose in the Compassion Games,” said Jon Ramer, founder of Compassion Games International. “The more people play, the more people win.” The Games is a way to serve those in need and work together for more unified communities.

In the Compassion Games, competition is replaced with “coopetition” as individuals, groups or communities cooperate to make the world a better place. It’s “heavy lifting with a light heart,” as the leaders of the Games told participants Friday at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Sande Hart is the head coach of Compassion Games International. She is also president of the Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope, a women’s interfaith community. Hart told of different groups that have participated in the Compassion Games, which range from schools to cities to prison inmates.

Attendees take selfies with the Compassion Games torch. All participants in the 2015 Parliament of World's Religions received the handout in their bags. (Kjersten Johnson)
Attendees take selfies with the Compassion Games torch. All participants in the 2015 Parliament of World’s Religions received the handout in their Parliament registration bags. (Kjersten Johnson)

Sommer Joy Albertsen is the leader of The Women and Girls League and is commonly known as the “unicorn” of the team. While wearing a unicorn hat, Albertsen divided the attendees into groups and told them to make their own compassionate planets. Despite not being given much information and only little time, the attendees developed unique, original ideas that were shared with the class. After, Albertsen said they didn’t need much information but had great potential and just needed to be trusted.

Just as the creativity was present in the small groups, it can also be present in the Games. “You can use the Games as a platform to make magic happen in your community,” Ramer said.

There are only four steps to the Games: commit to play, play your heart out, report and reflect and share and celebrate. Albertsen pointed out that these four steps are what the attendees did in the small break-out session.

Jean-Luc and Simpson reunite after 14 years. They attended the Compassion Games lecture, which advocates for social change through compassionate acts of service. (Kjersten Johnson)
Jean-Luc and Simpson reunite after 14 years. They attended the Compassion Games lecture, which advocates for social change through compassionate acts of service. (Kjersten Johnson)

The Rev. Djaloki Jean-Luc, who is originally from Haiti but lives in Maryland, is the cofounder of Wisdom Circle Ministries. Jean-Luc described the games as “the next level” in human cooperation.

Scott Simpson is a professor of world religions at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in Concord, North Carolina. Simpson and Jean-Luc met in 2001 in Haiti and hadn’t seen or heard from each other since. Simpson regularly instructs his students about Jean-Luc’s viewpoints and teachings. The two men happened to both attend the Compassion Games lecture and sit near each other. After 14 years, their happy reunion showed the true strength of interfaith dialogue as well as compassion.

Just as Jean-Luc and Simpson showed kindness years ago, Hart said many people are already doing compassionate things and that’s where the change will occur. “Compassion is the power source for social innovation,” she said. “If anyone asks, ‘How do you start the Compassion Games?’ I ask, what are you already doing?”

More Universe coverage of the Parliament of the World’s Religions:

An introduction to the Parliament of World’s Religions conference

Parliament of World’s Religions opens in Salt Lake City with first-ever Women’s Assembly

Parliament of World’s Religions: Mending young hearts, healing the legacy of trauma

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Opening ceremony celebrates people of all faiths

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Magic demonstrates the golden rule

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Flash mob energizes conference crowd

Parliament of the World’s Religions: BYU faculty weigh in on contraceptive mandate debate

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Powerful women can and do change the world

Parliament of the World’s Religions: How religious identity is used and abused

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Interfaith dialogue and derailing mass murder

Parliament of the World’s Religions: “Compassion Games” transform competition

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Parliament of the World’s Religions: Muslim scholars examine ISIS, urge interfaith action

Parliament of the World’s Religions: Clarifying misperceptions about Islam to defeat ISIS

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