Compassion: Another “C” that Defines Our Humanity – continued

We are addressing the foundational question: “What does it mean to be human?” by invoking the “10 C’s” of the creation spirituality lineage.  Up to this point we have considered the following six “C’s”:  Critical Thinking; Cosmology/Ecology; Courage; Chaos; Character Development; Contemplation/Meditation.

All things are connected; small actions lead to large outcomes: “Effect of Butterfly.” Painting by Anastasiya Markovich; photo by Picture Labberté K.J. On Wikimedia Commons

Now we are considering the theme of Compassion.  There is universal agreement from all the world’s wisdom traditions that the best humankind has to offer is compassion.  And that compassion is not beyond our capabilities.  Today’s science is on board also because interdependence is a principle of all living things.  Science and spiritual traditions together can move us from folly to wisdom–which we are desperate for today.

Professor Andrea Diem-Lane narrates this film, partially based on an excerpt from Michael Tobias’ moving book, Life Force, exploring Jainism and its ancient practice of ahimsa or non-violence. Uploaded to YouTube by neuralsurfer.

From Buddha to Jesus, from Isaiah to Muhammad, from Black Elk to the Vedas of India, from Lao Tzu to wisdom teachers of Africa, our species is admonished to respond to life by practicing compassion.  We honor Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa as four twentieth century heroes for having done so. 

Compassion is the living out of our interdependence. Compassion is about sharing the joy and sharing the pain—and doing what we can to relieve the pain, especially that caused by injustices whether they be ecological, economic, social, racial, gender, or generational in nature.  Compassion requires the calling forth, the educing, the educating therefore of our deepest capacities as a species: Our capacity to act as if we truly are part and parcel of one another, in joy as well as in sorrow.

“We Are One-Mitakuye Oyasin” Virtual Choir features over 200 children singing in English and Lakota throughout the Black Hills and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota. Posted to YouTube by Orlando Chamber Soloists.

Compassion calls us to create a society where all are winners and none are losers, a “world that works for everyone,” as Sharif Abdullah puts it.  An economic system, a political system, a health care system, an educational system, where we all have a fair chance and where the dispossessed are not forgotten.  And the “all” is by no means just the two-legged ones, but all our fellow creatures on this marvelous earth.

Is that possible?  Is that a pipe dream?  It is impossible if we fail to educate as if it were possible.  But how can it be impossible if all the religious traditions of the world espouse it as possible?  It is possible if we set our goals that way and if we lay out our educational strategies in that direction. 

5000 people demonstrate in support of Black Lives Matter, Hamburg 2020-06-05. Photo by Rasande Tyskar on Flickr.

It is not possible if it is ignored or if we develop no strategies to bring it about.  Or if education or religions or political forces are busy serving hidden and uncriticized agendas of empire building or gender, tribal, racial, religious or economic hegemonies.

When people of all races march in the name of “Black Lives Matter” and against racism embedded in history and in police and judicial systems, they are saying something strong about our shared interdependence.  To be human is to accept the humanity in others—your pain is my pain—people are saying.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, pp. 121-123.

Banner Image: Compassionate touch. Image by Jackson David from Pixabay

How do you understand compassion?  Do you see it on the rise?  Do you feel the realities of interdependence stirring in souls and in the streets?

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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