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Charter for Compassion

I have abhorred bigotry and hatred since long before I started this blog two years ago. But alarm over what Sarah Palin represents spurred the creation of this blog. Nothing that I have posted over the intervening two years seems to have made even a small dent in the ever-increasing atmosphere of hate that poisons discussion in this country. Nevertheless, I refuse to be caught up in the boiling anger so prevalent these days. I am trying hard to maintain my equanimity and avoid bigots of all persuasions, including those on the left.

I’m catching up on back issues of magazines that I subscribe to and found a most interesting article in the September-October 2009 issue of Ode magazine entitled, The Reason of Faith, by Michael Brunton. In it, he highlights the work of Karen Armstrong, whose wish was to create a Charter for Compassion.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those whose hearts are twisted by hatred over the proposed mosque in New York could find the time to read and reflect upon the Charter for Compassion?

Charter for Compassion

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Update: For those near San Francisco, check out the conference being held by the Common Bond Institute starting November 19th.

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