Thursday, November 13, 2008

Compassion is Cool

The item in this photo is available at

Renowned religious history scholar Karen Armstrong wants you to know that compassion is cool and is leading an initiative known as the Charter For Compassion. Check it out:

"Compassion is indeed central to every one of the major world religions -- but sometimes you would never know it. Increasingly religion is associated with violence and intolerance; it seems preoccupied with dogma, belief, getting to heaven, or enforcing correct sexual behavior. There are magnificent exceptions, of course, but it is rare to hear religious leaders speaking of the primary importance of compassion. People don't even seem to know what it means. It is often assumed to mean "pity" or "feeling sorry" for somebody. But the root of this Greco-Latin word is "to experience with;" compassion compels us to dethrone the egotism, self-preoccupation and selfishness that hold us back from the divine and put ourselves in the place of another.

All the great religious sages insist that compassion is the chief religious duty. The first person to do so was Confucius, who, five hundred years before Christ, was the first to formulate the Golden Rule: "Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you." It was the central "thread" that ran through all his teaching and should be practised "all day and every day." Every single faith has evolved its own version of the Golden Rule, which requires us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain and refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict that pain on anybody else." (Read the whole statement here)

In the spirit of this effort, I'll be posting on compassion soon but wanted to make sure that people who might be interested in participating are aware of the Charter. I especially want to make sure that Baha'is are part of this global discussion as I think we might have a little something to say about the topic.