I recently had the wonderful experience of attending the Festival of Faiths, an interfaith gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, a city comparable in size to Winnipeg; a city officially declared a Compassionate City, and one that is committed to the “Charter for Compassion“, interfaith dialogue and open hearted charity.
Religious leaders of many faiths, including the Dalai Lama, came to share love and wisdom, inspiring teachings and compassion. Thousands of citizens from all over the world came to be in communion with others who shared how to take action and make compassion a part of organizations, businesses, schools – even cities.
The work I do is compassion informed. I’m a therapist, educator, and artist, and the foundation of my practice and life is the Golden Rule – the one all faiths have at their core — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
A powerful message of the Festival was the imperative of implementing the Golden Rule in all aspects of life – from personal to professional. Whether you are a mayor, a dentist, a lawyer, artist or barber – if we continue to live without taking action – nothing will change. If we follow Louisville and the teaching of great thinkers and leaders, amazing things can happen. (Watch the Dalai Lama’s presentation in Louisville by clicking here.)
A personal goal in attending the festival was to be in the company of others who have signed onto the Charter for Compassion, as I did about two years ago when I came upon it by chance while searching the internet for ways to bring compassion into the work I do. I was delighted to discover the formal “charter” started by Karen Armstrong – former nun, author, TED talker and pioneer of the charter.
When I stumbled upon it – as others have – I couldn’t imagine NOT singing up and committing to principles of compassion in my life and work. I work in service of others. The charter reminds me to work humbly and generously – to be aware of honouring those I work for. To work in this way with others keeps me on my toes and helps me to improve myself in my practice. To paraphrase the Dalai Lama – a key factor in creating peace, a compassionate century and a compassionate world is to create and build a compassionate self.
Like many others, I hope and pray and take action to assist others to be compassionate individuals – with compassion for self, others and the planet. It’s inspiring to be with people who bring principles of compassion, restorative justice, recovery, altruism and open hearted love to their work, especially with children – our future.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing of all about attending the Festival of Faiths had to do with being there with such esteemed and accomplished individuals as those who were part of the delegation that travelled to Louisville from Winnipeg. To be with others who have the ability to make great things happen in the city; as in Louisville – individuals willing to step up to the challenge of implementing principles of the Charter for Compassion in municipal, health, business and other organizations.
For me, as a therapeutic practitioner and artist, principles of the charter are easy and essential to adopt. But for others, the touchy-feely, borderline religious-spiritual message may be more of a challenge.
As Father Richard Rohr – my favourite speaker at the conference — pointed out: for all beings, religious, secular, atheist, “The true self does not teach us compassion, it is compassion. The true self does not choose to love, it is love.” We have the opportunity to step into our true selves.
TOWARD A COMPASSIONATE WINNIPEG
Recently, a delegation from Winnipeg traveled to Louisville, Kentucky — in November 2012 and again in May 2013 — to learn how city leaders there began Compassionate Louisville. From schools to government, healthcare to policing, Louisville is proving that a lasting, positive impact is created when compassion informs the day-to-day life of a city.
Community News Commons encourages anyone to imagine what Winnipeg could become if we followed the lead of Louisville and made compassion an integral part of our community life.
Click on the links below to read other CNC articles on creating a compassionate Winnipeg:
Friendship blossoms for Sikhs, Mennonites in North Kildonan
Knowing more about others creates greater compassion
Compassion helps take back the streets
Golden Rule unites world religions
The hard work of living a compassionate life
Winnipeg encouraged to adopt Golden Rule
Delegation seeks compassion, will hear Dalai Lama speak
Winnipeg delegation looks to compassionate Louisville
Forum on compassion asks: Does Winnipeg care?
Is Winnipeg a compassionate city?
You can also type the word ‘compassion’ into the search bar at the top of this page to access more stories on this subject.