The following blog entry was written by Gary Peluso-Verdend, a member of our Steering Committee. Gary is the President of Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, and this was originally published on their web site.
I write these words after having voted but before knowing who wins the elections. Regardless of who triumphs at the national and local levels in the thousands of races being decided Tuesday, I can safely say the U.S. in general, and those of us in the Tulsa area specifically, could foster a better society through acting with more compassion in everything we do.
In June 2015, the Tulsa City Council and the Mayor signed on to the Compassionate Cities Initiative. The initiative is a worldwide movement, started by Dr. Karen Armstrong and backed by the TED organization more compassion in the world. Here are two paragraphs from the Charter of Compassion. These aspirational words at the core of the initiative these might help you to envision a world changed for the better:
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
I am a member of the steering committee charged with developing and implementing a plan for compassion initiatives in Tulsa. The committee recently launched a campaign to “Make Tulsa Golden,” based on the “Golden Rule” teachings of the world’s religions (see Religious Tolerance.org or Teaching Values.com). If you live in the Tulsa area, please take the pledge to abide by the Golden Rule in your relationships.
Regardless of where you live, I encourage you to find a way to remind yourself to ask the question, at least once a day: “What is the compassionate thing to do?”
I am going to work on creating a sticker for my computer, or a wristband, or a coffee mug, or some other visual reminder to make this a key, readily visible question for me daily. As so many religious practitioners, dietitians, counselors, and coaches tell us, we all need reminders to develop habits and to act from our better selves, our more humane selves, our more interdependent selves, our more compassionate selves.
I cannot imagine a more essential yet difficult-to-attain virtue that would improve 21st century life for all of us than compassion. The virtue of compassion is at once personal, communal, and societal.
In a seminary class decades ago, I read the difference between Satan’s justice and God’s justice is that Satan’s version of justice is pure and lacks mercy, whereas God’s justice is woven with compassion. We, the human race, would be better off if we practiced God’s version.