Do Unto Others World religions too often seem predicated on prejudice, when their true roots lie in compassion By Karen Armstrong
The practice of compassion is central to every one of the major world religions – but sometimes you would never know it. Instead, religion is associated with violence, intolerance and seems more preoccupied by dogmatic or sexual orthodoxy.
People don't even seem to know what compassion is; they imagine that it means to feel pity for somebody, whereas the root meaning of this Greco-Latin world is "to feel with" the other, realising at a profound level that we share the same human predicament. This is crucial at a time when we are bound together – politically, economically, and electronically – as never before but have rarely been more perilously divided.
This is why we have launched a Charter for Compassion. During the next few days, millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims worldwide will be invited to comment, stage by stage, on a draft Charter on a multilingual website. Later, a council of inspirational thinkers representing the different faiths will examine their findings and write the final version. Finally, there will be a large signing ceremony.