Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Most Compassionate Act

During the Axial age, essentially all the world religions came to the same conclusion: that compassion and reconciliation were the only ways to find what is sacred or divine. It became an effective truth that compassion was the only value that worked. This truth is still valid today, but has become obscured by the zero-sum game of fundamentalism. Fundamentalists, of whatever stripe you might name, from Muslim to Evangelical Christian to Orthodox Jew to Atheist and whomever else that ascribes to strident dogma, have a penchant to be dismissive of world views that do not align with their own. Fundamentalists see other world views as a barrier to achieving truth. Whereas, compassion fosters the notion that an acknowledgement of other world views needn't inhibit our own. The most compassionate act, from which all other acts of compassion stem, is to acknowledge that other people's world views are as legitimate as one's own, with the exception of views that foster violence and oppression.

The playwright Eugene Ionesco noted, "Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." 

We need to tap our compassion to help us recognize, especially in our globally interdependent world, that fundamentalism of any stripe has no place in a compassionate world. Bill Clinton said it best:

The more complex societies get and the more complex the networks of interdependence within and beyond community and national borders get, the more people are forced in their own interests to find non-zero-sum solutions. That is, win–win solutions instead of win–lose solutions.... Because we find as our interdependence increases that, on the whole, we do better when other people do better as well — so we have to find ways that we can all win, we have to accommodate each other....
—Bill Clinton, Wired interview, December 2000

No comments: