The Unda Foundation is part of the conceptual artwork “Flag of Compassion“
On 29 August 2008 the founding act of the Unda Foundation was passed.
The statutes focus on the objective of managing and publicising the Flag of Compassion. The name Unda Foundation was chosen because the flag shows a golden-yellow wave in a white field. “Wave” is in Latin “Unda”.
The Foundation, or the Board, serves as the conscience of the Flag. It does not make any statements about what and when there is compassion. But it activates and stimulates people and organisations to think about the concept of compassion and challenges them to do something with this Flag. The board has drawn up a policy plan for this.
Corporate governance consultant, lawyer, entrepreneur.
“Three questions about compassion
Is the number of people that act with above-average compassion, equal to the number of people that stay below that average? If that were true then compassion would be measurable, calling into existence a “compassion median”. I don’t believe this is the case.
Still, I like the term “the compassion median”. Our fellowmen determine whether we have acted with or without sufficient compassion. The first question, “Is my behaviour under or above the compassion median?” thereby invites one to reflect upon one’s own behaviour through the eyes of others. This invitation to reflect on one’s own performance increases one’s capability for self cleansing and thereby the likelihood of intrinsic behavioural improvement. The experience of governance of the past 400 years –for the sake of convenience, I have taken the incorporation date of the VOC in 1602 as a starting point– show that regulation and codes of conduct have limited value when it comes to influencing the behaviour of an elected leader. Perhaps we should, therefore, elect our leaders while bearing in mind their track record in showing compassion for others.
The second question “When was the last time that you acted with compassion according to a colleague/subordinate/client/family member/friend/enemy?” may not only be posed to a candidate in a job interview, but also to any other person regardless of his or her role in society. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. Nothing prevents someone from regularly asking oneself that question.
Naturally, the third and final (counter) question subsequently arises, “But what is meant by compassion?” The curiosity about the answer to that question in itself increases the chance of more compassionate behaviour. Especially when we submit our answer for review by others.
It makes us all jointly responsible”.
Entrepreneur and independent adviser in sectors of culture and media.
“Flag of Compassion’ is dedicated to encouraging people to think about the notion of compassion.
It is relatively easy to have compassion with like-minded people, but how do we develop empathy for individuals who are fundamentally different from ourselves, and who may challenge our ability to feel compassionate towards them?
According to the Buddhist view of life, a deep sense of compassion leads to the desire to help others, and to become involved in their suffering. However, Plato and Zeno reject the notion of compassion if it involves pity: relationships based on pity detract from their ethical ideal of rational restraint. These philosophers argue that if we lack common sense and wisdom, we sometimes do more harm than good. In short, my own thoughts on compassion have not yet fully matured. I still have many ontological questions, and as a member of the board, I would like to encourage others to join in the discussion of what compassion is, and to explore with them what it means to others and to myself”.
Human Resources Development (HRD)
“I find it a fantastic idea to work towards a central and renewed place for the notion of compassion in society, by means of an artwork. The paradox of the conceptual artwork Flag of Compassion, the several elements of the artwork and the choice to not make statements on the meaning of compassion, appeal to me. For the latter, I had to switch my mindset.
As a scientific researcher in the field of trust in organizations, I got used to the concept of ‘construct clarity’. Thus, the Flag offers me a new way of looking and I hope to contribute, via this board position, to the talking about and acting upon compassion in society”.
“Some images stay in my mind forever. The old man, dressed in grey, performing a ‘prayer’ with the yellow and white Flag of Compassion of the Unda Foundation is one of these pictures. Praying and compassion, in my opinion, are closely related. Compassion is a universal quality and it is important to assist in spreading this throughout the world.
Another reason I like the Unda Foundation is that the idea of compassion is understood in a very general way; compassion can be felt for anything, anywhere, it is not related to a specific country, culture or humanitarian problem. Wherever or whenever there is a need, the Flag of Compassion should be raised.
For these reasons I am delighted to be on the Committee of Recommendation of the Unda Foundation, and to be able to put my energy into raising this flag as often as possible”.
“Awarding or receiving a flag, at several stages of my life, has always be a meaningful gesture. At such moments I am more aware than ever of the power of this universal symbol of unity and shared ideals.
Flag of Compassion stands out for me because it gives more personal dept and reinforces the desire to be able to contribute to a better world“.
“Compassion is an extensive concept and is subject to each person’s own interpretation. It exists in a broader as well as a more narrow sense, but it always expresses engagement, respect and charity. Especially when people are busy and seem to lose time for matters that do not directly affect their own interests, compassion can fulfil an important role to ensure that people stay connected and continue to offer support to each other. This form of compassion is what I wish to promote“.
“When I raise the Flag of Compassion or when walking I notice the Flag of Compassion waving in the wind my feelings take a much broader flight then just the term “consideration”, which is the dictionary meaning of the word compassion.
The flag, at this place, at this time, symbolizes passion, affection, love, emotion and sometimes also pain and suffering in which I involve others, or in which others engage me.
To me therefore the Flag of Compassion means involvement with each other when we need each other and when we want to share our feelings”.
“Compassion” for me combines: “together” and “passion”, and these two words summarize why I am enthusiastic about the Unda Foundation. When I saw the Flag of Compassion for the second time being waved by a twirler, I thought “how wonderful this project is as it brings together people, compassion and empathy.” The specifics of art together with the concern for people; this fits in my daily work as a communication person: connecting people with objectives and passion in organizations in constant change. Storytelling, the subject of my latest book and PhD thesis, is like the Flag of Compassion, a symbol for culture, a symbol for connection, involvement and interaction. And that is exactly what I stand for!“.
“Ever since the 19th century, flags symbolize nations, nationalism and war. At the end of the 21st century, the nation state will no longer be the overruling international organizational form. Wars are only fought for ideological reasons and should be abolished in this century. The Flag of Compassion is over and above the boundaries of nations and ideologies and points us the way to this cosmopolitan ideal”.
“Compassion is a special human quality. We feel compassion because we are able to imagine ourselves in the other’s position.
We can feel what others feel. And this feeling is urging us to act.
Spinoza sensed that love and benevolence are the true motives to help our fellow-men. For giving love makes us happy.
I feel a bond with this”.
“The ability to give compassion is what distinguishes men from animals. A civilization without compassion is known as a ‘jungle’. Left to yourself in a jungle, I imagine you will not survive for long“.
“The Flag of Compassion is the most touching flag I know. It is the symbol of our striving for human greatness which, when enslaved, exploited or ignored, causes feelings of emptiness, alienation and isolation. Without this striving we lose hope, together with the perspective of a better future. Compassion is the main principle of both. It is the ability to be attentive and respectful to the other and otherness, to known and unknown forms of life; and to act accordingly. One who knows Compassion is able to see him or her self as part of a whole, as an individual who, like all creatures around him, struggles painfully to develop himself optimally. Compassion is the –painfully achieved– quality to transcend oneself“.
“The higher value in my life is meeting others. For me, the most important element in meeting someone is the feeling of empathy for each other’s world, preferably mutual; in happiness and in sorrow (and everything in between). This is against the background of a specific social, historic or geographic context. For me, the Flag of Compassion is therefore an expression of respect and affection, it is about meeting each other, in an almost literal sense of living together.“.
“My personal understanding of the concept of compassion is that it recognizes and accepts the weak aspects of the existential experience: poverty, injustice, defeats, failures, material and mental distress. Compassion may help individuals and groups to overcome their difficulties. In order to be of help, however, compassion should not be lived as a contemplative attitude but as a prerequisite for active participation in human recovery and social growth. And I gladly play a role in this debat through the Flag of Compassion”.
“Compassio is the Latin translation of the Greek word sympatheo. Both words literary mean fellow-suffering/to sympathize with someone. But what a difference in intensity or even in meaning there is today between these two essentially related words.
The meaning of words changes in the course of time, as times change themselves. ‘What the world needs now is love sweet love’, so the lyric of some decades ago goes. But I think we now are much more in need of compassion, because compassion implies a more active and intense involvement. Love, compared to compassion, feels almost too detached.
A foundation that aims to propagate compassion has hence my full-hearted support“.
Henri Polaklaan 14,
Unda Foundation has been recognised as a Public Benefit Organisation (ANBI, Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling) and a Cultural ANBI by the Dutch Tax Administration.
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