Making Compassion the Center of Our Lives

What if every thought, word and act, from every person on earth, arose from compassion? How might that change the world? How might that change us?

2008 TED winner and religious scholar Karen Armstrong believes that compassion should be the center of "religious, moral and political life." As part of her TED prize "wish" she has established the Charter for Compassion. As the Charter website says:
"Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. One of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community where men and women of all races, nations and ideologies can live together in peace. In our globalized world, everybody has become our neighbor, and the Golden Rule has become an urgent necessity."
The Charter website not only asks citizens of the earth to sign and affirm the charter, but it offers ways for those interested in a more compassionate world to connect, to share, and to act -- such as participating in special events or online actions, or sharing and reading acts of compassion.

Here is the text for the 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 [sic] to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

If you want a truly compassionate, just, sustainable world for all, start by affirming the charter, and then strive to make your every thought, word and action flow from a center of compassion for all people, animals and the earth. Such a world is possible; we just have to make it so.

~ Marsha


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