Charter for Compassion


A militant kind of aggressive religiosity, sometimes called fundamentalism, has grown up in every single one of the major world traditions. As a rebellion against this imbalanced world, a rebellion against humiliation, powerlessness. Religion has focused more and more on a narrow understanding of religious dogma. And there’s a sense of rage expressed in religious terms. Every religion as I understand them has a history of intolerance and every religion has principles for overcoming intolerance. I want people to hear the compassionate voice of religion. I want to change the conversation and bring compassion to the forefront of people’s attention. Compassion is at the heart of my religion. And religion when its done in a healthy way should enhance that. It’s recognizing each others humanity. Its realizing that it doesn’t matter if their Jewish or Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Islamic. That they’re a fellow human being, that they’re suffering, and that that’s avoidable. As a Muslim you have to submit to the will of God and submitting to the will of God means that you have to be compassionate and kind to your fellow human beings. That which is hateful to you, don’t do to your fellow. Love thy neighbor as thyself, I am thy god. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like them to do to you. The Golden Rule is a golden rule in so many different world religions. And we need to somehow find a way to implement the Golden Rule globally, so that we treat other nations, other peoples, whoever they may be, as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We need a Charter for our own souls, for our own sake, but also for the sake of the world, the sake of our perilously divided world, which is in one sense drawn together more closely than ever before. The world will be invited to make their own contributions, make their own comments, tell their own stories about compassion or the lack of it The bus was rounding a hair pin corner and was suddenly sheared in half by a logging truck. I had broken my back, my pelvis, all my ribs. I had collapsed lungs and major internal injuries. At that point a young man, not a doctor, not even a nurse, came and sewed up my arm with a needle and thread. And he just saw the need and this young man saved my life. And that man took off his leather jacket, took off his sweater, and then took his shoes off in the middle of the street removed his socks and gave them to the naked man. And both of them began to cry because it was such a moving experience that this little black lady grew these tomatoes and gave them to someone she didn’t know purely out of a sense of love. I remember she sat with me while I cried feeling this just unconditional compassion. It felt like I was drinking fresh water. And that social worker fought for me to be able to stay in school and from there my life evolved. The task of our generation, whether we are religious people or secular people, is to build a global community where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony.

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