Times are tough. Many are struggling. Everything feels uncertain, and with that, fear is in the air. Increased stress weakens our immunity, which can leave us even more worried. To step out of this vicious loop, enter KarunaVirus. Sounds like Corona, but it's even more contagious. :) It's the Sanskrit word for compassion.
Good news, uplifting stories, goose-bump-raising videos, inspiring ideas. Scientists call it cognitive reframing, but we just call it love. A new story.
The intent behind KarunaVirus.org is to amplify the voice of our collective compassion -- by featuring news of everyday people choosing love over fear. We feel that the acts of courageous kindness we're seeing all over the world will far outlive the virus, and if enough of us keep it front and center of our consciousness, it could well bring new possibilities for our future.
Perhaps we're in the middle of living into that new story. Imagine the Italian Air Force using Pavoratti, Spanish soldiers protecting compratriots, and street police playing guitars -- to help and *inspire*. Corporations giving unexpected wage hikes. Canadians starting "Kindness Mongering." A six year old in Australia adorably gifting her tooth fairy money, an 8th grader in Japan making 612 masks, and college kids everywhere buying groceries for elders. Cuba sending an army in "white robes" (doctors) to help Italy. A landlord allowing tenants to stay without rent, an Irish priest's poem going viral, disabled activitists producing hand sanitizer. Imagine. Sometimes a crisis mirrors our deepest impulse -- that we can always respond with compassion.
While our site is clearly meant to be uplifting, it's not necessarily the kind of "happy news" that turns a blind eye to our grief and suffering. Rather it invites us to a more expansive space -- that crucible of benevolence within ourselves -- which can hold these challenges with uncommon grace.
We invite you to join us, co-create that new story and spread a bit more Karuna in the world!
"No mud, no lotus." --Guri M
Our site was launched in mid March, with an announcement that spoke to our intent:
As the coronavirus uproots our lives, we are left with many open questions. Will we choose love over fear? How does a heart of service respond to an unknown cause, how do we build resilience when we can't be physically together, and how do we amplify the beauty of the lotus in the mud?
Uncertain times raise significant questions that can architect the arc of our future. Carbon emissions have dropped dramatically, but xenophobia is rising. Government surveillance is increasing, while global cooperation is going up. Shopping malls are empty, but family meals are on the rise. Awakening of compassion is pervasive, but the inequality of human suffering is evident. In a context of "social distancing", neighbors lean out of their windows to sing songs together. Borders are still present, but the boundaries of our shared humanity are blurring. Yes, undercurrents of fear are everywhere, but so are prayers. Teacher Jack Kornfield recently shared, "The virus isn't happening to us; it's happening for us."
May we step into our highest aspirations to serve this inflection point in history.
Everything on our site is a labor of love, offered freely without any ads or solicitation, in the spirit of cultivating a resurgence of compassion. The site is run entirely by volunteers, and we are part of a larger incubator of volunteer-run projects called ServiceSpace, whose numerous innovative experiments aim to foster a culture of generosity in the world.
For more context about our unique organizing principles, check out this TEDx Talk: Designing for Generosity.
On KarunaVirus, we are also working towards tapping machine learning to create a "compassion bot" that will help us find, and amplify, stories that match our criteria. We anticipate that technology to have far-reaching applications, even beyond the scope of this project. Stay tuned for more!