Madeline played a video of Karen Armstrong presenting her thoughts on Compassion and Empathy and then we took some time as a group to discuss the ideas.
Armstrong began with the statement that in her youth, she never associated Religion with Compassion. It is a remarkable thing to say, except that so many others have had the same experience with Religion. And yet the 6 major religions all agree on compassion as an essential element of working toward a better world (even thought they can't agree on a lot else.) Compassion is essential to the existence of humanity and of Religion.
And yet, she points out, we are addicted to our pet hates. We feel threatened when our pet hates are attacked. And in a sound bite world, defeating opponents seems to also include humiliating them.
To us as Unitarian Universalists, Armstrong really touches us when she says: We must learn the art of compassion again. We are all in this together, the world is connected. An assault on the other side of the world is not an assault that will be unnoticed or forgotten. Religion is at its best when it teaches us to ask questions and at its worst when it tries to answer questions.
“Ibn al-Arabi gave this advice:
Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not limited by any one creed, for he says, 'Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah' (Koran 2:109). Everyone praises what he believes; his god is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently, he blames the disbelief of others, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.”― Karen Armstrong,