One Thousand Things of Thankful

Compassion Logo FINISHEDIt’s been quite a week.

A week ago I was tired of blogging and not sure I’d ever write another post (though really I knew I would.) This is my second post in 3 days, after weeks of nothing, and now I’m back joining in Ten Things of Thankful. How could I not write this weekend, when I have so much to be thankful for?

A week ago the idea of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion didn’t even exist. Now we’ve got almost 800 people in our Facebook group, we have a Facebook page, and we’ve got a hashtag on Twitter: #1000Speak. We have a gorgeous logo, designed by my lovely friend Pam Bennett.

Things have moved so fast. It’s extremely exciting and at times a little overwhelming. At one moment on Wednesday I was having three separate Facebook chats, writing a  blog post and firing emails back and forth with Pam as she worked on the design.

I love it though! I love that people feel encouraged and inspired to take part. I feel gratitude pour from me; my heart is singing when I think of the amazing people taking part and the amazing things some of them have already written. Yesterday I asked people to share a few words about why they’d joined and what being part of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion means to them. I had tears in my eyes reading the responses and shivers down my spine. (And I don’t say things like that unless I mean it!)

Somehow, the time was just right for this. All it needed was someone to suggest it. I’m not sure it would have happened this way a year ago, maybe not even a month.

For me, the story of 1000 Voices Speak begins a week ago on Wednesday. We all know what happened in Paris on the 7th of January.  It was on Twitter where I first saw the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack . Updates came fast, and I kept getting drawn back to Twitter to check for more.

Within minutes of that first tweet, more came attributing the attacks to extremist Islamic terrorists. It didn’t take long for some people to start blaming Muslims in general, and soon anxiety spread that this attack would create another wave of Islamophobia.

However, and thankfully, it may just have done the opposite. Ordinary Muslims and Muslim leaders were quick to tweet messages like the one below:

These were soon followed by this kind of tweet:

There was something else too, something that I began to notice with the tweets calling for newspapers to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Something was changing in our response to terrorist attacks. Changing in a good way. I felt it all day, and then in the evening I saw  the tweet that summed it up:

We are not afraid to stand together, whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or of no faith or everyone. We are saying no to terrorism dividing us. Hands reached out and typed words of support for each other. They reached out on January 7th, and they’ve gone on doing so.


By Sunday, people were marching in Paris in solidarity of the right to free speech, even if (especially if) we sometimes disagree with what people say. It was amazing to see so many people walking together. I may be one of very few people to say this, but I felt pleased to see even the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who had reportedly been asked not to attend. If they can walk together in Paris, perhaps eventually they can walk together at home. But while this walk took place, I read this tweet.

I was one of many who didn’t know about this massacre. I soon found an article in the Guardian, detailing a horrific attack by Boko Haram on Nigerian villagers. The elderly, women and children died, because they could not run fast enough to escape the randomly fired bullets. This next tweet was my own.

I also posted about this on Facebook and Lizzi from Considerings saw my post. She wrote, “What is WRONG with the world ?!?!?” This was my reply:

Fear of others, dehumanising opponents (seeing them as less than human and so it’s not murder.) We do this too, if we refer to terrorists as vermin etc.
Phillip Zimbardo is worth reading on this. He’s most famous for the Standford Prison Experiment, and has also written about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. I think he testified at one soldier’s trial.

Also Arthur Deikman’s book Them and Us explains a lot. (I’m reading it just now.)…/dp/097200212X/ref=sr_1_3…


 Lizzi commented that she’d just written a post trying to counter this kind of thing, I read her post, and the idea for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion was born. I’m so thankful it has taken off. I am so thankful those journalists and those people in Nigeria did not die in vain. Their voices may never be heard again, but we can speak for them; we can keep saying, “Enough” to violence and bring compassion sweeping across the globe. It is happening, and our 1000 voices will be heard.    

This post is part of the Ten Thing of Thankful Blog Hop


  1. I have a lot of opinions but am usully prettyreserved and ‘soft-spoken’. My close friends know them (some are not so popular), and I don’t broadcast it much… until now. Your project awoke something in me that cried, “enough!” I have had enough of watching all the horrific inhumane acts in the world and I have had enough of being silent! I will do what I can.

    1. Author

      Kathryn, it is so touching to read your comment (and those of others) who say they feel something awoke in them or they have found strength to speak out. That is exactly what my hope was when I suggested we get 1000 people together. So many people feel isolated, yet so we are not. Thank you for joining in!

  2. Thanks Yvonne , when Lizzi told me about this it just felt right to participate. There is so much need and room for compassion in the way we are living. We can choose compassion, forgiveness, tolerance.

  3. It is amaizing how the #Speak thing jumpt off. But so many things in this world are wrong and we desperately need loads of voices for compassion. Thanks to you and Lizzy for getting this ball rolling. 🙂

    1. Author

      It is amazing Serins! I guess the time was just right. Thank YOU for joining in. We couldn’t do this without every one of us!

  4. Yvonne, I love that you dive into the deep muck of this world and lift it out for all to pay attention to, and in so doing- you call us all to claim compassion amidst the horrors and fits of terror and atrocities that fill our land…

    I’m sick about seeing so much evil flourishing in the face of the innocent. Just sick about it. So THIS. This is something… that will rise above the dark cruel world and light it with the fire of love. It may not change a damn thing, but maybe?

    It might.

    We must have hope. There is goodness…. there is goodness. And in the end, good will ALWAYS win.

    I’m honored to share in this mission with you, my dear friend. Truly honored. And don’t you dare stop writing… 🙂

    1. Author

      Chris, I love your phrases: “dive into the deep muck of this world and lift it out …to claim compassion.”
      I think we need to do this if we are to ever create the world we’d like to see. Looking away from the horror and trying to “think positive” has limited effect. We need to face the muckiest side of the world and of ourselves, and embrace that, to see deep change. I regularly dive deep into the muck of my own thoughts and each time I do this, it releases me to love more deeply.

      I’ve seen some beautiful posts today (including one from Geoff) on having compassion for those it might seem hard or even “wrong” to – those who insult us or criminals. When we have compassion for them, we strengthen ourselves. It’s possibly a life-long work to reach that level of compassion, but worth it, I think.
      Thank you so much for being part of this – from comments like Kathryn’s it is already creating benefits.

  5. I’m envious, in a nice way, of how your mind makes the associations that, when I see how you’ve made them, I go YES! She’s so right. A conscience for our time Ms Spence! A blogging friends made a nice point to a post I made on the 1000 voices which is the ‘compassion’ element of this being a common passion as exemplified in the Dalai Lama’s quote on FB. Having common cause, declaring a passion for something, is truly a fine thing and while everyone comes to this meeting point from many many different places they leave it with that common sense of unity. You may be right; this was the right moment, the zeitgeist was ready and coming to the boil. But it needs someone to see it. Take a (small, as I know you to be modest) bow for your and Lizzi’s prescience

    1. Author

      Geoff, thank you for your kind comment.
      I saw your post and the comment about common passion. It is interesting that there are different definitions of compassion. I probably tend towards the definition in that quote from the Dalai Lama that you mention – the sense that beneath our differences, we are all the same. I also like the definition that I’ve seen a few times (including in Paul Gilbert’s book, The Compassionate Mind) that compassion is basic kindness, an awareness of suffering and a “wish and effort to relieve it.” I don’t think it is necessary (or even desirable) to suffer because we see others suffering. For me, at least, that tends to hamper the taking action part of compassion!

      You may be right, and that it takes someone to see or seize the moment. I didn’t consciously do this, even though I did see the change in attitude. I just had the idea and went with it! I’m not terribly comfortable in the spotlight, but okay, I’ll take that small bow. Thanks.

  6. Just…YES! Yvonne, you are one of the most socially switched-on people I know. And I am thrilled to PIECES that you started this, and that I’ve been able to be part of it. We. Are. DOING. IT!


  7. It is unbelievable how big this has gotten in only one week! Clearly people are not only ready, but clamoring for positivity and peace. I’m so glad you came up with the idea and went with it. Just like Denise (girlie on the edge) said in her TToT post this week, opportunities are everywhere. We just need to keep our eyes open and have the courage to take them. You jumped at the opportunity, and over 700 people are jumping with you.
    And you have made me want to maybe get more involved on twitter.

    1. Author

      Christine I have been amazed – and delighted. I think we’ll get 1000. You are right, people do want positivity and peace. I hear it from people over and over, and the discouragement people feel when they don’t see it. So we will bring a little of that to the world, and jump, jump, jump!
      Twitter, once you really get into it, is a little bit addictive. (It took me years.)

      Thanks so much for joining in, and for your comment.

  8. At this moment (and others), I am thankful for you. I am thankful you started this (with Lizzi), I am thankful I “know” you, and I am thankful (always) to find a friend who can speak honestly and gently, straightforwardly but not harmfully. I am thankful for all 800 (and counting) people who have joined this group so far.

    1. Author

      Sarah, thank you for your beautiful comment. 3 days on and we’re over 900 now, so I think we’ll reach 1000!

  9. Can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said, Yvonne. So happy to read this, to be a small part of it, and for what you and Lizzi have started here. Excited to see where it goes!

  10. Girly and I talked much about dehumanizing language this week. She is studying the Holocaust in English. She asked me, “How is the way the Nazi’s spoke about the Jews any different than people today speak about terrorists and Islam? To me it sounds the same.”

    I am grateful for compassion and this movement. It is exciting to see how it will impact. To practice gratitude and compassion are good places to start in making the world a better place.

    1. Author

      Beccalynn, I agree with Girly. Our use of language reveals so much. I don’t even like using the word “troll” for people who write aggressive comments on the internet, because of it’s dehumanizing effect.

      Thank you for joining us. It’s so wonderful to already see so many posts about compassion all over the place!

  11. I said in my intro post that I was never much of a joiner. But I was moved enough to join this. It’s wonderful and I’m so glad you and Lizzi put your heads together and got it moving!

  12. Like I told Lizzi, we might just need to add an additional 0 to the 1000. It’s easy to see the evil in the world; this movement brings the good to the forefront. Thank you!

  13. Lovely post, Yvonne! And good to have you back in the blogosphere. I’ve kind of been feeling lately like you were the few weeks you weren’t blogging. Maybe contributing to 1000 Voices will help me.
    Love the quote about Rupert Murdoch!

  14. Thank you so much for this incredibly informative post. I know how hard it has been to keep pace with these complex events as I’ve been trying. I sat down in the end started a timeline . Thanks for all the work you must be putting into 1000 Voices. Can’t wait and I am very thankful for having this opportunity to be part of a truly global movement for good!! xx Rowena

  15. It was wonderful and amazing how positive the messages have been after the Hebdo massacre. I have Muslim friends who were cringing at the thought of another media lashing against Islam and it was heartening that that was not the message they heard!
    So, so thankful and delighted to be a part of this movement, Yvonne!!!

    1. Author

      Roshni, I feel so delighted when I read your comment! I am so pleased to see that your Muslim friends getting a much more heartening message then the one they feared.

      And thank YOU for being such a wonderful part of this movement. Your contribution is so valuable.

  16. Pingback: #1000Speak for Charleston, Ferguson and Paris… | Live By Surprise

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