Charter for Compassion

Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for pointing this out: with the power of TED, a "Charter for Compassion" is being drafted online. It's a wiki-style document: you have to become a member, but then you can contribute to what they're billing as a pan-religious statement on compassion, a sort of "let's all get along" based on the common "faith" of peoples of the world.


PZ is (rightly) peeved to see that the charter makes no mention of people who don't happen to hold a particular faith. But I see the wiki-style construction as an opportunity to fix that. My contribution:
Compassion is universally valued among humans, whether they have a specific or general faith or not. In fact, there is even evidence that compassion is practiced and valued among other animals, and between animal species. Compassion is indeed a precious quality of life itself. So long as people believe that their empathy and compassion, their humanity itself, comes from a particular religion, lineage, or revered text, humans will continue to mark peoples with "different" religions, lineages, and revered texts as "other," as "the enemy," as non-humans undeserving of empathy and compassion -- as "evil" creatures undeserving of humanity itself. This "othering" is a wicked compulsion that will, if left unchecked, destroy us all. It is desperately necessary that all humans, worldwide, no matter their beliefs or non-beliefs, no matter their backgrounds, no matter their literature, see each other as living, feeling, human beings -- that we experience empathy and compassion even for those who may seem very different from us. Religions are not always sources of absolute good: religions may inspire their followers to compassion with the left hand while the right hand inspires followers to bloodshed. In order to come together, we must transcend religious faith like all particulars of culture, and experience our common humanity together. We must set aside genetic and cultural differences like complexion, language and dress, and religion -- we must see that those things are mere trappings that express our humanity within our cultures and disguise our humanity among them. It is only once we have accomplished this that we may evolve as a planetary human race, together, to a greater, more peaceful, more powerful, more interconnected society, beginning a new era of humanity, a new age of discovery and creation and wonder.
If you join, you can rank the various suggestions (for the preamble) in the following categories: "Insightful," "Inspiring," "Inclusive," "Impact." I don't know about the other categories, but I should win "Inclusive" hands down, since the other entries are very God-y. (At least the ones I can read are -- many of them are in other languages.) I encourage everyone to head to the Charter website and contribute. And, hey, try to rate a few entries that acknowledge the humanity of non-believers while you're there, will you? You know, like, maybe, mine? :-)

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