Be Nice, Louisville

Hey Louisville, you better be nice—and not just to avoid the Naughty List of a certain cookie-loving someone. You may not have known it, but on November 11 of last year Mayor Fischer signed his name to the Charter for Compassion, making Louisville the largest “Compassionate City” in America.

Signing the charter is part of our city’s attempt to meet the three precepts of Mayor Greg Fischer: one—health; two—life-long learning; and, of course, three—compassion.

Now don’t worry, you’re not signed up for any mandatory volunteer work. The Charter for Compassion is meant to be a kind of contract with the Golden Rule. Yeah, remember that one from Sunday school? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The idea behind the Charter for Compassion is that virtually every religion and moral system contains this mantra. Signing the charter means that you agree to do your utmost to uphold this ancient principle of empathy.

But more than an idea, the Charter for Compassion also calls its signers to action—and good Samaritans all over our city are rising to the occasion. Compassion fever seems to have infiltrated a multitude of local organizations: the University of Louisville, Spalding, the Fund for the Arts, and Greater Louisville Inc., to name a few. And a pretty mixed crowd has got the bug—from professors, to business owners, to retirees, to Mennonites—even our furry friends will participate in creating a more compassionate Louisville.

Camille Britt-McManus is a volunteer for Compassionate Cities, the international organization behind the charter. She says that when Mayor Fischer signed the charter, he put Louisville on track to become a Model Compassionate City. Assuming all goes well, the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities will look to Louisville as its how-to.

And how does Louisville go about fulfilling its contract with kindness? Increasing volunteerism and doing a better job of looking after the hungry and homeless is part of it. But according to Britt-McManus, the effort to make Louisville a Compassionate City has to start at the individual level. “It boils down to being compassionate ourselves. If we can see it in ourselves, we can facilitate it in other people,” said Britt-McManus.

So, if you think the Golden Rule is where it’s at, sign the Charter for Compassion, with your own name.