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Charter for Compassion

This month the Charter for Compassion was launched. It may not be in exactly the language you regularly use (I personally don’t tend to use “enlightenment” language – but I respect and am comfortable with those who do). Some think it is clearly affirming the obvious. I particularly appreciate the highlighting that religion, like other very powerful things, can be used for great good and for great evil – compassion is a way of distinguishing its use.

If you agree with it, you can affirm it by adding your name here.

Or use the following widget:

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.

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4 thoughts on “Charter for Compassion”

  1. One hesitates to question these forays of goodwill for humankind, but what on earth, or heaven for that matter, does this mean:

    “the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate”

    and from which common aspects of all religions (sic “all”, not just some or most of them) is this statement drawn?

    I have no idea where this principle lies in ‘ancient’ times, and I am very doubtful that it lies in the ancient paths of all religions with currency today. It certainly didn’t lie in the ancient religions which were rabble roused to persecute the early believers in Christ. Nor, one might note, did it lie in the principles of Mohammed as he and his successors pursued his particular missionary strategy for the spread of Islam.

  2. I agree with the Charter for Compassion and have signed it. However, let me ask the hypothetical question: Isn’t this just a reiteration, watered down into non-religious terms, of fundamental Judeo Christian values? In the most extreme cases, the culture which who adheres to the values expressed in this charter could be annihilated by the culture which has does not value compassion and would thus murder or harm with impunity. Wouldn’t it be better for persons in the various faith traditions (whatever they may be) to reclaim compassion within their own faith traditions, and to rebuke those within their own faith traditions who lack compassion, instead of going outside to embrace this secular charter?

  3. I haven’t signed it because the devil’s in the detail – in particular in the interpretation of the phrase “any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate”. In the UK we have politicians trying to sideline Judaeo-Christian faith traditions because they think all of our scriptures, in different ways, breed violence, hatred and disdain.

  4. My interpretation of the Charter is that despite all of our differences we are joined by a very strong common bond – the recognition that we need to live our lives with compassion for others. If we do that, who can argue the world would not be a better place?

    Rev. – please consider supporting the Charter’s message by posting the widget that allows people to read and affirm the Charter directly. You can find it at http://www.charterforcompassion.org/widget

    Will (helping to get the word out)

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