Armstrong & Tutu: Compassion must unite us...

A great treatise (even if you don't believe everything theologically asserted here... which is fine) on our need for common ground, common acceptance, and active love, compassion and reconciliation between nations and religions. I love the heart of ecumenism.

(CNN) -- We have called on the world to sign up to a Charter for Compassion.

Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves into the place of the other and it lies at the heart of all truly religious and ethical systems.

The charter, which will be unveiled Thursday, November 12, has been composed by leading thinkers in many different faiths. Thousands of people have contributed to it online. It is a cooperative effort to restore compassion to the center of religious, moral and political life. Why is this so important?

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.

Religion, which should be making a major contribution to this endeavor, is often seen as part of the problem. All too often the voices of extremism seem to drown those that speak of kindness, forbearance and mutual respect. Yet the founders of every single one of the great traditions recoiled from the violence of their time and tried to replace it with an ethic of compassion.

The great sages who promoted the Golden Rule were nearly all living during periods of history like our own. They argued that a truly compassionate ethic served people's best interests and made good practical sense.


When the Bible commands that we "love" the foreigner, it was not speaking of emotional tenderness: in Leviticus, "love" was a legal term: It was used in international treaties, when two kings would promise to give each other practical support, help and loyalty, and look out for each other's best interests. In our global world, everybody has become our neighbor, and the Golden Rule has become an urgent necessity.

When asked by a pagan to sum up the whole of Jewish teaching while he stood on one leg, Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus, replied: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah -- and everything else is only commentary." His Holiness the Dalai Lama put it even more succinctly when he said: "My religion is kindness."

Click here to read the whole article...

2 comments:

Al said...

I particularly liked these quotes in the video: "The great Rabbi Meir said that any interpretation of scripture which led to hatred and disdain or contempt of other people -- any people whatsoever -- was illegitimate. Saint Augustine made exactly the same point. "Scripture," he says, "teaches nothing but charity, and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it." And this struggle to find compassion in some of these rather rebarbative texts is a good dress rehearsal for doing the same in ordinary life."
I think she is spot on in calling us to reclaim compassion.

Peter said...

I love the concept of "rehearsing for ordinary life." That struggle - the wrestling - isn't a burden or a mistake - it's a mandate, and a test of our commitment to goodness. Great comment Al!

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