Compassion and Earth vs. War and Retribution

Yesterday’s DM ended this way: Where are our “defense departments” when we need them?  Can’t the climate crisis awaken all humans everywhere to address the common foe: Climate change?  And let our other hatreds go?

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry describes the challenges of uniting the world in defense of the climate. National Museum of American Diplomacy

Let us explore our capacity for compassion and spiritual warriorhood again. 

Meister Eckhart teaches that “compassion begins at home: With one’s own body and one’s own soul.”  Today we need to say: Compassion begins at home: With our own planet which is our common home.

We are not destined or fated to end our species by destroying our planet whether by climate change, nuclear war or other wars.  That would be a choice on our part, an irrational and stupid and abhorrent choice, but a choice. 

Pope Francis has called for Friday, October 27 to be a worldwide day of prayer, fasting and penance for peace. Rome Report

It would not be a pure choice necessarily but a pile of blunders, hatreds, projections, mistakes and shadows born of self-hatred and self-ignorance and stirred up by lousy leaders, often aspiring strongmen, wounded beyond belief. 

Yes, we can easily go the way of our many hominid cousins who are all extinct at this time in planetary history.  We are currently the last ones standing.

All our spiritual traditions teach us we are capable of compassion.  Of caring.  Of letting go.  Of love and justice and making equality happen.  And of self-awareness.  Of facing and embracing the shadows and traumas we and our ancestors have inherited.  It is possible.  Compassion to self and others is possible.

Orthodox Jews demonstrate in the 2022 London protest of the Israeli killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Photograph by Alisdare Hickson on Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe our media and social media should be promoting that message more than it does.  A lot more.  Maybe our defense departments should be doing the same.

Rabbi Heschel says: “Humanity is a reminder of God.  As God is compassionate let humanity be compassionate.”

In Islam, this prayer is repeated five times a day: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful.”  Those who follow Allah are also called to follow a way of compassion. 


Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 386, 383. 

Also Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.

Banner Image: The light of peacemaking. Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash


Queries for Contemplation

How high on the list of your religious or spiritual values and beliefs lies compassion?  Do you agree that we are capable of compassion?


Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register


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3 thoughts on “Compassion and Earth vs. War and Retribution”

  1. Avatar

    I believe compassion is what humanity wants and community needs. Compassion is a two-way gift- when I am compassionate and leave myself aside I enter the other and give the love of God to my sister or brother in service and care – it is reflected back to me. It makes no difference if my gift is rejected! Compassion is unifying, gentle, intimate and upholding.. it is essential and its beneficence spreads and gives joy to others. It is the fuel of life and deepens our relationship with the One who made us.

  2. Avatar

    Christ said: “Go and find out the scripture that says, It is kindness I want, and not sacrifice.” I think that when any belief or religion or individual or group, puts doctrine before compassion, it has totally lost the plot. Compassion comes first.

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