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#FierceCompassion - Is Skoll World Forum relevant?

Fierce Compassion is the theme of this year's Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford.

Outside a more inclusive forum may be found at Oxford Jam

Only recently the director of Skoll's centre on social entrepreneurship declared that "social enterpreneurship is a distraction - it's mainstream capitalism that needs to change"

To us that was no revelation, as a social enterprise we've been saying it for 20 years and more to the point, taking action to "be the change"  it began with a 1996 position paper and the core argument which concluded

Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings.  Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.

Each of us who have a choice can choose what we want to do to help or not.  It is free-will, our choice, as human beings.

Recently I described how we'd engaged with what was then called Skoll Social Edge to describe our efforts in Ukraine. The primary focus in this case being children abused and neglected in orphanages.  

Founder Terry Hallman directed his anger toward  a series of articles on 'Death Camps, for Children' which sketched out a social investment strategy to place all children in loving family homes.

The formal proposal came in February 2007 when the 'Marshall Plan' proposal was delivered to Ukraine's government. It argued that through financial investment in the transition of all children to family homes, a net reduction in state spending could be delivered. describes how this was shared and created traction when "impact investors" began making the same argument for a financial rather than a social return.   

In 2009 we became partners in the Charter for Compassion because it aligned with our own arguments for reciprocity.

Tackling terrorism through compassionate economics is an article on the Charter site about social enterprise in Crimea

While we engaged on Skoll Social Edge, Founder Terry Hallman was calling on USAID and the Senate to help "establish an alternative form of capitalism, where profits and/or aid money are put to use in investment vehicles with the singular purpose of helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people."

He concluded:

"We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?"

Skoll wasn't listening it seemed. Terry spoke plainly when the question of building the new marketplace arose on Skoll   

I learned last year that Charles Cameron who wrote that article had like Terry become a victim of poverty.

When Terry died he was commended by those he worked alongside in Ukraine, but by none of those who used his work to serve their own purpose.

The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission – rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.

Only after his death he allowed to publish his communication with Ukrainian and US authorities about the issue.

He left his thoughts on social enterprise:

"The term “social enterprise” in the various but similar forms in which it is being used today — 2008 — refers to enterprises created specifically to help those people that traditional capitalism and for profit enterprise don’t address for the simple reason that poor or insufficiently affluent people haven’t enough money to be of concern or interest. Put another way, social enterprise aims specifically to help and assist people who fall through the cracks. Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not."

As Taoism teaches, from Compassion comes Courage, but there is only one way to propagate it and that's not from a lectern or a website: