Compassion is, by one definition, “a deep awareness and sympathy for another’s suffering.”
Karen Armstrong, the former Roman Catholic nun and one of the foremost writers on religion of our generation, and the renowned African spiritual leader and peacemaker Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in launching what they have called the “Charter for Compassion,” are not saying anything new.
The basis for their call to action — for a worldwide and individual movement of simple and radical compassion — is based in what we collectively know as the Golden Rule.
Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Confucius said: “Do not do unto others what you would not like them to do to you.”
Jesus himself, scripture tells us, said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Love your enemies.”
The great Jewish scholar Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus, when summing up the whole of Judaism’s teaching, put it this way: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor — that is the Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and study it.”
St. Augustine echoed Hillel’s sentiments, saying that scripture “teaches nothing but charity, and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it.”
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