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cfc_b2_eng_120_60.jpgby Jon Rubinstein

I’ve been writing elsewhere about the Charter for Compassion which launched on November 12. The Charter is the fulfillment of Karen Armstrong‘s 2008 Ted prize and comes from Armstrong’s observation that every religion, without exception, shares a central tenet:

“The
Charter will proclaim a principle embraced by every faith, and by every
moral code. It is often referred to as The Golden Rule….The Golden
Rule requires that we use empathy — moral imagination — to put
ourselves in others’ shoes. We should act toward them as we would want
them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to
carry out actions which would cause them harm.”


Here’s what Armstrong had to say in her speech calling for the Charter:

‘What I’ve found, across the board, is that religion is about behaving
differently. Instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God,
first you to do something. You behave in a committed way, And then you
begin to understand the truths of religion. And religious doctrines are
meant to be summons to action; you only understand them when you put
them into practice.

Now, pride of place in this practice is
given to compassion. And it is an arresting fact that right across the
board, in every single one of the major world faiths, compassion — the
ability to feel with the other in the way we’ve been thinking about
this evening — is not only the test of any true religiosity, it is
also what will bring us into the presence of what Jews, Christians and
Muslims call “God” or the “Divine.” It is compassion, says the Buddha,
which brings you to Nirvana. Why? Because in compassion, when we feel
with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and
we put another person there. And once we get rid of ego, then we’re
ready to see the Divine.

So the traditions also insisted — and
this is an important point, I think — that you could not and must not
confine your compassion to your own group: your own nation, your own
co-religionists, your own fellow countrymen. You must have what one of
the Chinese sages called “jian ai”: concern for everybody. Love your
enemies. Honor the stranger. We formed you, says the Qur’an, into
tribes and nations so that you may know one another.’

Pretty inspiring stuff, right? Go to http://charterforcompassion.org to learn more, and to affirm the charter. They’ve also got videos from teachers of many different faiths, including one by the always amazing Robert Thurman and a particularly moving talk by Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf.

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