Armstrong's wish

Religious historian and author Karen Armstrong dedicated her TED Prize wish to the creation of a Charter for Compassion. The website for which launched earlier this week. If you had just one wish (and aren't allowed infinity wishes) then promoting compassionate behavior is a good choice.

Armstrong has called compassion humanity's best idea. It's often explained through The Golden Rule, sometimes in the affirmative (do to others what you would like to be done to you) and sometimes in the negative (do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you).

Christ advised followers to "render unto Ceasar the things that are Caesar's..." but the Charter seems purposefully political, particularly when referencing compassion's indispensable role in creating a "just economy." When U.S. President, Barack Obama, cancels a meeting with the Dalai Lama in deference to China and is then handed a peace prize, bringing a compassionate perspective to economic discussions is worthwhile endeavor.

Compassion may not have had much influence on economic talks in the past, but it has always been central to the world's largest religions. Even so, the idea of restoring "compassion to the center of morality and religion" won't be embraced by all in the religious community. For instance, one Christian commentator offered this explanation of why Jesus would not endorse the Charter.

You may be tempted to wash your hands of fundamentalists (and religion altogether), but let's not cede that territory. Collectively, religion still informs the actions of many, domestically and around the world. Secular humanists and the like would be wise to seek out and support the most reasonable voices in religious  communities rather than turn their back on the entire discussion or deride faith-based beliefs. In this interview Armstrong says, "We can either emphasize those that speak of exclusion, of distain, of hatred, and these are in all traditions--be they religious or secular--or we can emphasize those that speak of compassion, of respect for other people, of a quest for justice."

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Armstrong's life and work are summarized in this recent radio interview. NPR and PBS feature additional conversations with her. Her most recent book, The Case for God, can be sampled at audible.com. In this Foreign Policy piece Armstrong addresses such axioms as God is dead (no), God and politics shouldn’t mix (not necessarily), and God has been bad for women (yes).

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Love And Compassion Bring Us The Greatest Happiness by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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