Compassion

January 14th, 2011

As the events of the past week have shown, a nation or a house divided against itself cannot stand. While it's really easy to see why dramatic economic and social changes cause people to cling to old fashion tribal ideas, its also easy to see, especially now, that we must reach out to better understand each other, to respect each other and most of all bring compassion to our daily discourse. The truth is, people have been preaching compassion for centuries. It has been part of the religious and secular cannon for thousands of years. Yet today, religion itself is part of the problem. How then do we reaffirm compassion in the wake of violence, fear, ignorance and rapid change?

Religious scholar Karen Armstrong, in her new book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, argues that we need a new Charter for Compassion; that we need to lay out, codify and reaffirm the core principals of a compassionate life. My conversation with Karen Armstrong: