Imagine a world where stories don’t just entertain, but ignite empathy. Where words don’t just fill pages, but bridges divide and challenges injustice. Imagine a publishing house where profit isn’t the driving force, where stories aren’t just commodities, and where the ultimate goal is not shareholder satisfaction, but the cultivation of compassion in the world.

The weight of a book shouldn’t just reside in its pages, but in the impact it leaves on its readers. It should serve as a mirror reflecting our flaws, a compass guiding us towards empathy, and a seed sowing the fertile ground for change. Books are mediums of expression, destined to ignite change and progress. Fiction and nonfiction, when crafted with intention and empathy, can bridge divides, challenge assumptions, and move hearts and minds.

The relentless pursuit of profit

My journey to founding the unconventional publishing house Compassiviste Publishing began in the heart of the conventional, fast-paced, high-stakes world of finance where I once worked, trading and making money off complicated financial instruments to the detriment of society at large. I spent years thriving in that cutthroat world, chasing after the elusive ever-more. But amidst the relentless pursuit of wealth, a protesting disquiet began to take root.

Success, measured in zeros and ones, felt hollow. The relentless pursuit of profit, the disregard for human dignity and environmental impact, clawed at my soul. The system I was deeply entrenched in, built on the pillars of competition and commodification, seemed inherently at odds with creating a loving and equitable world. The environmental toll of our unchecked consumption, the systemic inequalities that perpetuate suffering, and the silencing of marginalized voices — realities I couldn’t ignore any longer.

I realized, with a jolt that shook my carefully constructed world, that I wasn’t just enslaved to capitalist pursuit, I was willingly contributing to its very flaws. I saw an insidious system built on profit over people, excess over sustainability, and silence over truth.

As an author seeking to publish my own work, I struggled to retain creative control.  My voice was drowned out by market influence; I was pressured to sign away ownership of my own expression. Paper, the lifeblood of this industry, came at the cost of deforestation. Legal loopholes masked exploitative labor practices: the Asia-Pacific region is one of the largest producers of bookbinding materials yet is also one of the regions where child labor and even slavery are prevalent.  This leaves invisible scars on every printed page. These weren’t isolated issues; they were symptoms of a larger social fabric riddled with inequality and injustice.

Personal awakening

My personal awakening mirrored what I saw happening in the publishing industry. Authors, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, often struggled to find their voices heard. Environmental concerns surrounding paper production rarely entered the conversation. And the legal frameworks governing intellectual property, while protecting authors, sometimes inadvertently facilitated practices that exploited vulnerable communities. Take, for example, the plight of the Maasai people of East Africa whose images, as used in advertising campaigns by brands such as Land Rover and Louis Vuitton, have helped these brands earn millions — yet the Maasai remain uncompensated.

These issues, I realized, were just microcosms of the larger societal challenges we face. The world of publishing wasn’t exempt from these ills. While it held the power to amplify voices and illuminate truths, it fell prey to the same profit-driven pressures, perpetuating systemic biases and prioritizing financial gain over social impact. It was a stark realization, but one that fueled a burning desire to break free from the mold.

But the publishing industry, I also realized, wasn’t the problem; it was a reflection of it. My disillusionment wasn’t unique. The capitalist system, while undeniably generating wealth, has sown deep seeds of inequality, environmental degradation, and social discord. The industry, like many others, reflects the broader ills of our society and its values.

A shift towards compassion

True change, I believed, had to go deeper, to touch the very core of our values and motivations. Yet, I knew changing the publishing industry alone wouldn’t be enough. My vision expanded beyond reforming a system; it sought to cultivate a fundamental shift in the human experience — a shift towards compassion; the birth of Compassiviste.

Compassion, in its purest form, isn’t just fleeting sympathy; it’s an active force that compels us to understand, connect, and act. It compels us to stand up for the marginalized, celebrate diversity, and protect the environment. It’s the antidote to the apathy and greed that fuel much of the world’s suffering. Compassion compels us to see ourselves in others, to understand their struggles, and to act with empathy and responsibility. The real change we need goes far beyond the realm of books. It’s about cultivating compassion through storytelling, a force more powerful than any profit margin, a language that transcends borders and biases.

This philosophy became the inspiration for Compassiviste Publishing, a not-for-profit publisher dedicated to amplifying voices for social change and igniting the spark of empathy within readers. Operating as a collective venture within the overarching Compassiviste family, Compassiviste publishing has a singular mission: to inspire compassion through storytelling.  Because storytelling can spark conversations, challenge perspectives, and ultimately, inspire action.

Here are some of the ways in which Compassiviste Publishing embodies these values:

  • We prioritize authors who are committed to ethical practices and responsible storytelling.
  • We only publish digitally, minimizing our environmental footprint.
  • We publish works that highlight critical social, environmental, and cultural issues, giving voice to marginalized communities and perspectives often overlooked by mainstream publishing.

Our mission extends beyond the printed page: we partner with organizations promoting social justice and environmental sustainability. Every decision, from digital publishing to profit redistribution, is guided by our core value: compassion.

Our first titles, set to be released in spring 2024, encompass a diverse range of genres, from novels exploring themes of inequality and discrimination, and series exploring social orders in a multiverse, to investigative narratives exposing environmental injustices. In March 2024, we will also launch our quarterly anthology, the first issue focusing on “Visions for Peace,” featuring stories that celebrate hope, resilience, and the human spirit’s capacity for understanding and cooperation. And through our quarterly anthology, we curate stories that explore themes of human connection, conflict resolution, and social justice.

It’s a movement

More than just a publishing house, Compassiviste Publishing is a movement. We believe that by nurturing compassion, we can create a more compassionate and equitable world, one story at a time. Every story we publish, every author we support, every reader we engage, is a step towards building this harmonious world. We invite authors, readers, and anyone who shares our vision to join us on this journey. Let us use the power of words to build bridges, break down barriers, and create a world where compassion is not just a fleeting emotion, but the guiding principle of our actions. Proceeds from Compassiviste Publishing are intended to advance Compassiviste Foundation’s causes, our registered charity, an active tentacle of the Compassiviste octopus.

My journey, from capitalism to compassion, from opportunistic exploiter to the mindful presenter of storytelling with a social conscience, has been a humbling and transformative one. Leaving behind the world of finance wasn’t an easy decision, but it was necessary. It allowed me to align my actions with my values, to use my skills and experiences to contribute to a cause I deeply believe in. This is my way of participating in the collective story of humanity, a story I hope will be enriched by compassion, empathy, and a shared desire for a better tomorrow. With Compassiviste Publishing, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own journeys of compassion, using their unique talents and voices to make a difference.

I invite you to read our stories, support our authors, engage in our discussions, share your own stories, and let compassion be the compass that guides us all towards a brighter future. Together, we can write a new story, one where profit doesn’t trump humanity, where pages hold not just words, but the potential to compassionately activate the harmonious future. It’s time we write a story worthy of our shared humanity, the story of humanity in harmony.

Ali Horriyat is the founder of Compassiviste. Horriyat left the lucrative, profit-driven world of finance in 2016 to devote himself to his vision of a society where compassion, empathy, and social impact are at the heart of our actions. In 2020, he launched Compassiviste to spread this vision. Born in Dubai, he attended schools in the UAE, France and Switzerland before pursuing his higher education in Canada. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics, political science, philosophy, business, international relations and conflict resolution, and religion. Ali is the author of 12 books, including collections of essays and poetry, with themes ranging from racism and capitalism to spirituality, love and compassion. He believes that humans must “love always, and always love.”

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