Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Compassion and empathy

I feel fortunate in these dark days of Advent to have a nice warm home brightened by Christmas lights, plenty of food in my fridge, and a supply of good books on hand to enjoy after dinner. And in this holiday season, I'm blessed by the warmth and support of friends and family.

Easy for me to feel compassion and empathy for others, you say? Let it be known that others abound much more well off financially than I who turn their backs on those in need. That's why Dr. Karen Armstrong set out to change the world a while back with her Charter for Compassion. I subscribe to the Charter for Compassion's newsletter. Here's the Nov. 12, 2014 edition:

It's Time to Confront Our Compassion Phobia


When I was first invited to take part in Compassion Week, I had a bit of a reaction. It's not that I didn't want to get involved in next week's events in San Francisco - it's just that I have a problem with the word compassion. Maybe it's a guy thing, but compassion has always sounded a little too soft and fluffy for my liking, and I wondered whether some might just dismiss the idea of Compassion Week without stopping to find out what it was all about.

The people behind Compassion Week want to give the c-word a bit of a makeover. They have called on the City of San Francisco and the State of California "to make compassion a guiding principle for their businesses and public services", and are staging a series of gatherings and discussions from Monday to Sunday to explain what this means - and how it can be achieved.  Read more and join us at Compassion Week.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong: Review

Dr. Karen Armstrong.
How have we ended up with the idea that religious doctrine above all is to blame for human conflict?

Islamic State is like a bad dream. Its horror flashes up on our screens, so out of place in the waking world of cities and shopping and work. Its adherents wave what looks like a pirate flag. They are crazy, incomprehensible, intoxicated.

Some kind of spell must have been cast over them to rob them of reason and compassion. But what exactly? There are those who feel confident of the answer. "A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Qur'an," writes Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith. "The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity." He goes on: "horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world. But there is now a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths."  Read more.

Alice Walker highlights empathy and compassion in historic lecture

Alice Walker.
“Friendship is really important, and not just between men and women and women and women and people you know; it’s important between countries,” Walker said.

She is a vocal social justice advocate and explained the critical potential she believes global diplomacy can have in preventing war and other atrocities.

“We in this country are in the habit of dropping bombs on people, dropping napalm on people, dropping drones on people,” Walker said. “The only way we will save ourselves, the water, the mountains that haven’t been decapitated … is if we do it as friends, on a global scale.”   Read more.

YO-MAD – Young, Ordinary and Making a Difference! 

(You don't have to be extra-ordinary to change the world!)
Fenna Martin and Sophie Coxon are two ordinary young people who feel driven to make a positive difference in the world, and to show other young people how living adventurously, in the spirit of Compassionate Action, can transform their own lives and the wider world.

The Compassionate Cornwall Initiative is part of an international movement to change the culture of communities through compassionate action and is about to put Cornwall on the map as the first county in the UK to sign the international Charter for Compassion. (Belfast is the only other UK initiative to have signed, as a Compassionate City.) Learn more about the Cornwall Initiative and the special Crowdfunding project it is sponsoring.


We invite you to help us in promoting the work of the Charter by becoming a Member. Karen Armstrong, asked in April of 2013 for her definition of a compassionate city, replied, “A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn't loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when any group anywhere in the world is marginalized or oppressed. Uncomfortable when as a community we don't treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

Please become a Member of the Charter for Compassion. Step forward to support the compassion movement materially -- with your money, your time, your connections, your special areas of expertise, and your high expectations.

Become a Member of the Charter for Compassion
This newsletter is archived at https://charterforcompassion.org/node/8142 for you to send to friends and coworkers.

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