Hope = Compassion + Forgiveness

Photo courtesy of NPR
Photo courtesy of NPR

As a minister, I’m on the lookout for moments of contemplation into action within my personal and professional encounters throughout the day. Finding the Sacred (or Divine or God or The Holy or Buddha or the goddesses or Jesus or Allah) is not always easy. I teach myself to look more carefully; listen more intently; and touch more intentionally. I have much to learn.

Amidst the despair, fear and revenge of the tribal war between Israel and Palestine, this NPR story by Ari Shapiro, a Jewish journalist, offers glimpses and whispers of hope, compassion and forgiveness… the mission of my interfaith ministry.

The forgiveness moment is soft and subtle… but it’s there… a gentle reminder that just as there are many paths to God, there are also many paths to reconciliation. Can you help me find forgiveness?


Hope = Compassion + Forgiveness

The Charter for Compassion

12 steps to a compassionate life book

I read a lot of Karen Armstrong during my interfaith theology seminary training. I have come to honor her work and respect her opinion. She is smart, writes really well and has a tendency to make complex ideas simpler to digest.

In 2008, she founded The Charter for Compassion http://charterforcompassion.org/ after winning the prestigious TED prize (Technology/Entertainment/Design award). The Charter for Compassion is her “one wish to change the world” for which she was given $100,000 as seed money to create her wish.

The Charter for Compassion is an international cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of all religious, moral and political life. Check it out. You can sign on to the Charter online.

“Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems.”

“Compassion means to endure something with another person, to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, to feel her pain as thought it were our own, and to enter generously into his point of view.”

“Compassion can be defined, therefore, as an attitude of principled, consistent altruism.” (think: desire to help others/lack of selfishness).

Compassion is a hallmark of Buddhism. Buddhists believe that compassion is wanting others to be free from suffering. Buddhism is a call to live a life of compassion.

Compassion is concern for the welfare of others. It assumes that we are interconnected. Compassion softens “I” and amplifies “We.” Literally, compassion means “to suffer with.”

Compassion has its roots in primal tribal survival. Some suggest that compassion may actually be part of our genetic makeup.

Compassion means that others matter. Whether we call it love, kindness, care, tenderness, empathy, sympathy, mercy, warmth, charity.
Compassion sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Compassion is not pity; it’s not condescending; it’s not judgmental.

Compassion is a core value across religious cultures worldwide particularly deeply ingrained in the message of the 3 Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. However, Armstrong contends you do NOT have to be religious to be compassionate.

“Compassion has no contingencies!” (Timber Hawkeye)


Step 1 Learn about compassion
Step 2 Look at your own world
Step 3 Compassion for yourself
Step 4 Empathy
Step 5 Mindfulness
Step 6 Action
Step 7 How little we know
Step 8 How should we speak to one another?
Step 9 Concern for everybody
Step 10 Knowledge
Step 11 Recognition
Step 12 Love your enemies


compassion in action1


The Charter for Compassion




n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk. – The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows