Our Charter for Compassion
COMPASSION lies at the heart of all religious, ethical, humanist and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish others to treat us. It channels our energies to reach out to all neglected beings in pain and suffering. It is a calling to be gentle with all of Creation. It is a foundational virtue nudging us to become better versions of ourselves as we engage with Others.
Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of all creatures, including ourselves. It only works when we dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put an-Other there. It honours the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody with dignity, without exception or exclusion, with absolute justice and respect, but acutely mindful of the contexts. It urges us to care for the sanctity of all other beings, humans and non-humans.
Compassion is necessary for our public life as well as the private one - as public and self-compassion. It helps us to understand and refrain consistently from inflicting pain or creating situations that lead to pain and suffering of Others. We need to realise that the pain that visits others may also come upon us.
Yet today, we deny our common humanity, interconnectedness and the sacred bond that holds us together in many intimate ways. We speak, act and institutionalise in destructive ways: exclusive self-interest, hunger and famine, exploitation, impoverishment, denial of rights and dignity, incitement of hatred, provocation of violence, chauvinism, violent invasion, genocides, and denigration of others. We have become, to a large extent, insensitive to them. They have become a part of our 'normality' and therefore, do not command our critical attention or compassionate action.
We must sincerely acknowledge and accept that, as a whole, we have failed. We have created and continue to nurture, consciously or unconsciously, a violent, broken world. We have increased the sum total of human misery in the name of heartless economic growth, authoritarian power, military interventions, mindless education promoting unsustainable career paths, and spirit-less/soul-less religion. We have also increased the sum total of the misery of all other beings globally in many diverse ways. We have caused the extinction of many, many species. We must be acutely aware that we have individually and collectively failed to live compassionately.
We, therefore, call upon all persons (whatever gender, ethnic group, religious community, or social persuasion they may belong to) and particularly the young among them, to:
Restore compassion at the centre of relationships, morality, religion, public policies, governance, and everyday action,
Reach out to all and heal the world - work to end pain and suffering, destruction and death not only at the individual level but also at the collective as well as the structural level,
Return to the ancient principle that -- we are people taking the same journey but on different paths -- any interpretation of scriptures that breed violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate,
Ensure that children and youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions, and cultures,
Encourage a positive appreciation - not just tolerance - of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity,
Actively stimulate the seeds of inclusivity, coexistence, peace and reconciliation through in-depth dialogue,
Nurture empathetic compassion for the suffering of all beings, the poor and the marginalised, and even those regarded as enemies,
Seek meaningfulness, virtues, and values in the pursuit of happiness and work towards the physical and spiritual well-being of all, and
Embrace the rights of Nature in order that we may protect ourselves and all other beings from avoidable suffering or death resulting from ecological destruction.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our multi-polarised, violent and broken world. It is rooted in a principled and radical determination to transcend selfishness. It has the power to transform and transcend ethnic, political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. It provides the basis to promote inclusive mutuality and dialogical coexistence.
It is born again and again in our every smile and every act of friendliness and kindness.
We need to recognise that compassion is born of our deep interdependence and interconnection. Its the socio-spiritual womb that nurtures life. It is therefore extremely essential to human relationships. It contributes to a fulfilled, flourishing humanity extremely mindful of Self and the Other, including the biosphere. It is the path to collective enlightenment. It is indispensable to create and sustain people-centred democratic social institutions, a peaceful and inclusive global community and deep coexistence with Nature.
Let compassion speak to all of us through our actions. Let our humanity flourish.
Inspired by Charter for Compassion and Elders/Teachers Across Indigenous, Faith and Humanist Traditions.