Like so many people, I’m reflecting today on the ten year anniversary of this tragic terrorist attack. So many families lost loved ones, so many first responders now suffer for their heroism, so many servicemen and women now sacrifice themselves so dearly for our safety, and so many people have lived in greater fear around the world ever since that dark day.
But this 10th anniversary is also a time for renewal. To reconnect with the values we share with people we do not know in places we haven’t been to.
With that in mind I wanted to share this video that features men, woman and children reading in Arabic the wonderful Charter for Compassion prepared by Karen Armstrong and scholars from all religions as part of her 2008 TED Prize wish.
Here is the text of the Charter for Compassion in English so you can see what is being said:
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
Let’s hope today is also a time for healing as we recognize ourselves in each other and realize that our brightest future comes through tolerance, understanding and compassion.