Seems that many of the blogs I follow have posted about an idea that Karen Armstrong [no relation to me] has that a Charter For Compassion be developed.
In an On Faith post called "Calling All Religions to Compassion," Armstrong writes:
The major task of our generation is to build a global community where people of all persuasions can live together in mutual respect. If we do not achieve this, we will not have a viable world to hand on to our children. We must implement the Golden Rule globally, treating other peoples ~ whoever they may be ~ as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Any ideology ~ religious or secular ~ that breeds hatred or disdain will fail the test of our time. The religions should be making a major contribution to this essential task ~ and that is why it is important to sign on to the Charter of Compassion, change the conversation, and make it cool to be compassionate.The reverend Danny Fisher [of eponymous blog fame] is tentative about the idea. While he is pro-Compassion [surprised?], he is on the fence re the charter idea, being drawn to some negatory ideas he shares with Sharon Jacoby: 1) there is already a Universal Declaration of Human Rights that covers the same ground, and 2) while all major religions believe in something close to the same thing as this compassion thing, not all read it the same way.
We hope that hundreds of thousands of people ~ Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Confucians and atheists all over the world will contribute their insights on line on our multi-lingual website. The world will help to write this Charter to return religion to the spirit of the Golden Rule. Can we make a difference? "Yes We Can!"
In a long, thoughtful post, About.com's Barbara of Barbara's Buddhism Blog takes stern issue with Jacoby's objections. She writes: "Jacoby's reaction amounts to a knee-jerk recitation of all of her resentments about religion, whether they relate to what Armstrong said or not. Judging by the title of her comment -- 'On The Unreliability of Compassion Without Enforceable Law' -- she equates 'compassion' with 'good behavior,' which is not how I understand compassion. Compassion that must be enforced is not compassion." Barbara seems to like the charter idea, though she doesn't quite say so explicitly.
Rod, the whinny behind "...worst horse," alerts us to the charter thing, but expresses no view.
Bill of Integral Options Cafe writes, "I'm late coming to this, but The Charter for Compassion is a great idea that I think deserves more attention ..." ["More attention," I think it's starting to get.]
Me, I have some discomfort with the effort, beyond just Armstrong's goofy try to snag some of that Obama mojo. "Yes We Can!," indeed.
I hate to see "compassion" become something we hit people over the head with: "Be compassionate, damn it, you vulgarians, you."
Or see a Dogma of Compassion develop. To get compassion you must meet our regulations for compassion.
And what about the slippery slope!? Sure, a bunch of fat-hearted people want compassion universalized now -- but what next!? Love? Kindness? No meat eating? A reversal of California's Prop. 8!? Rush Limbaugh taken off the radio? Universal health care? Storming the Winter Palace?
Nah. Compassion is like wildflowers and not like veal farming. We must allow it to sprout where it will.
As for Barbara's objection to Sharon's objections: IMHO, if we "charterize" compassion, then it becomes a code, a rule, a command. It morphs into a regulation mandating behavior: Compassion made remorseless -- that is, incompassionate.