From the Pulpit: Let's affirm the Charter of Compassion

Richard Van Dellen

"In everything do to others as you would have them do to you." Jesus in Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31.

Called the Golden Rule, variations are found in almost all religious and ethical traditions. Confucius stated it long before Jesus, and the story is told that Rabbi Hillel, when challenged to recite the Torah standing on one leg replied: "No problem. The main idea of the Torah is 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Everything else is commentary."

In 2008 Karen Armstrong, British historian, won a TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) prize. She asked for ideas on how to spread the message of the Golden Rule and compassion. In a unique web-based platform, thousands of people responded from over a hundred countries. These contributions were reviewed by a Council of Conscience -- 18 men and women from multiple countries: six Christians, six Muslims, three Jewish rabbis, one Hindu, one Buddhist and one Confucian. They met in Vevey, Switzerland, in late February 2009. The Charter for Compassion resulted from that work.

The Charter for Compassion transcends religious, ideological and national differences. A quote from each of the four paragraphs follows:

"The principle of compassion … impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, … and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.


"It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently, to exploit or deny basic rights to anybody and to incite hatred by denigrating others — even our enemies — is a denial of our common humanity.

"We therefore call upon all men and women – to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion — to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate.

"We urgently need to make compassion a clear luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world."

The Charter for Compassion International was formed to help implement these ideals. Since its launching in 2009, an estimated 2 million people have signed the Charter, and 70 diverse communities have affirmed the Charter. Hundreds more cities in more than 50 countries indicated they have an interest in doing so. Compassionate Rochester is a group working to spread the Charter for Compassion in Rochester and ask the city council to affirm the charter and designate Rochester a City of Compassion in September.

You can help by having your organization, business or religious group become a partner at no cost in one of the 12 different categories called sectors. Check out the website. .

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