I only really found out about the Compassion Games in July and I only really became involved six weeks ago. Now it’s six days away to the biggest event of the year. If I had become actively involved nine weeks ago, or had nine more days to prepare, would things be different?
Here’s how close I came to putting some real numbers on the board.
Global Unity Games 11-21 September 2016
Day 1 – Unity
+ NYC receives the Torch of Compassion from Washington DC at Manhattan Pier 36, where a team of teams will pack a million meals.
On the 11th of September Team #CompassionateNYC is going to pack one million meals (in coopetition with #CompassionateDC also packing a million meals). I will be there all day, manning the Compassion Games information table from 7AM on, but had hoped to have some coverage so I could work a meal packing shift. Civil Servants, Captains of Industry, Modern Day Saints and a thousand of their friends among the seven Compassion Warrior classes will be making those meal packages come together. To do my part, I hoped to have ten friends help me man our information table. I have two friends.
Day 2 – Interdependence
+ facebook could be passing the Torch to LinkedIn or Snapchat or both, we don’t know. We were hoping to pass the Torch to Google for handoff to #CompassionateSiliconValley but the only confirmation we have so far is from the good people at facebook. In any case, I thought this could be a good day to kick off a weeklong intercollegiate game jam, since I figured I must have friends at at least a dozen local colleges and universities who make games and like to jam. I have two friends.
Day 3 – Environment
+ Foursquare has been running a ‘Get Outside’ contest all Summer which will be over and awarded by this time. I was hoping they could do a one-day reboot on 9/13 but I have not gotten through (since they are off hiking).
Wednesday Sept 14 – Economic Justice
+ I have two friends. We are going to spend the day at Zucotti Park. All are welcome to join.
Day 5 – Health
+ Johnson & Johnson sponsored a game I produced for Area Code at World Expo 2010 about how small acts of kindness lead to a greater good. The game features over a hundred and fifty unique Pokémon-like characters to which J&J owns global rights in perpetuity. If they get back to me with approval to reboot the game in time, it will be beautiful. We’ll see.
Day 6 – Children And Youth
+ Games For Change winners of the 2016 school challenge were supposed to be presenting their initiatives for Sustainable Cities to the United Nations General Assembly. The students have missed their extended deadline for submission.
Day 7 – Women
+ Code Liberation Foundation is supposed to be getting back to me. I have two friends.
Day 8 – Human Rights
+ We are holding a Peace vigil in Central Park, details to follow.
Day 9 – Freedom
+ There is a network of prisoners who are gamers but getting something coordinated in time for this is particularly challenging.
Day 10 – Disarmament
+ TBD, thinking maybe a Guns for Dollars program but with a playful edge a la artist Tom Sachs.
Day 11 – Peace
+ International Day of Peace was originally chartered by the UN for September 11 but, since it was preempted in 2001, it got moved to 9/21, so this gives us an eleven day journey, culminating all of the above with Love.
Okay, I know, everyone wins. No one loses who plays the Compassion Games, so I should not be discouraged by any engagement being too great or too small, but I feel my feelings must be allowed to simmer and expand. Bear with me.
My feelings are woven and tied to my calling. I am a Producer / Project Manager type person. I feel I am most myself when I am helping others to make things happen.
Naturally, when it came to my attention that quite a number of others were struggling to make a whole lot of things happen within the context of the Compassion Games, I said I would do whatever I could.
Even when I get tapped to tackle huge undertakings for money instead of ethical redemption I say yes. That is to say, as long as the money has no ethical cost; it’s just plain business; neither Good nor Evil. The only questions in those cases are of feasibility. Can it really be done? Are you hiring me to either perform a miracle or be a fall guy?
In this case I was not asking such basic questions. Again, no one loses here. It is all to the Good.
Now, with six days to go, I have renewed focus on what can be achieved, and why. The eleven themes map to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN a year ago.
The goals were set to replace the expiring Millennium Goals and constellate an array of parallel objectives.
The games were started when the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky called out the mayor of Seattle, Washington in a contest for Most Compassionate City. Louisville won, but it is not as if Seattle lost. As years have passed and New York City has joined in the fun along with Los Angeles, Boston, Austin and San Francisco, we note little Louisville is still in the lead. So be it.
Meanwhile, as other collectives have come on board without prompting from any city officials, a pattern emerges. Seven types of teams tend to form. I list them here according to unofficial assignations of warrior classes not to add to anyone’s confusion but, rather, in hopes of clarifying the field of players.
- Civil Servant – one who gives new meaning to political power
- Captain of Industry – one who takes seriously his or her corporate social responsibility
- Modern Day Saint – one whose faith feeds a reservoir as a civic resource
- Soldier’s Soldier – one whose military training keeps the peace
- Radio Operator – one who keeps media channels open and communications flowing
- Earth Cadet – a student of global Unity
- Wholympian – an athlete who truly sticks the landing
Names may be changed to protect the innocent and the squeamish but these categories give you a sense of the variety of players. While one person may qualify for a number of different clubs within a given team of teams (i.e. athletic student journalist ROTC chaplain’s acolyte) another person need only qualify for one (i.e. company man, or city clerk).
You may be none of these (i.e. sports-hating college dropout media distrusting antiwar anticorporate antigovernment bartender musician) and of course you are welcome to play anonymously or as yourself. You are more than welcome to rally like-minded individuals into a new class of Compassion Warrior.
Who you are does not necessarily determine how you play. Once you are registered — as a private agent or with a team — you will be given a new challenge for each of the eleven days. Having seen the themes above, as well as some notions for what to do about it all, you have some idea of what you might be getting into, including very little.
The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were put in place a year ago and at next week’s General Assembly we will hear about what progress is being made toward those goals. One may wonder why some of them may seem redundant if one is unfamiliar with the United Nations but all may stand assured each has its own relevance.
All you need to know is that there is no limit to the number of ways you may participate. Just mapping the SDG’s to the eleven themes of the Unity Games can be a game.