The Impact of Christianity
“Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and cultural priorities that historian J. M. Robers writes in The Triumph of the West, ‘We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again.'”. Christian missionaries were a major influence in stopping these century-old practices and ideas. According to historian Glenn Sunshine in his book Why You Think the Way You do, “Christians were the first people in history to oppose slavery systematically. Early Christians purchased slaves in the markets simply to set them free.” It is also true that slavery was ended in great measure by Christian activists. Two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society in 1835 were Christian ministers. While there are good charitable efforts outside of the name of Jesus, Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Christian charities stand out. Many of the world’s languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible. While America’s constitutional government is not specifically Christian, it can be argued that its roots are taken from biblical doctrines. “Here we see, in its embryo, the idea of limited government. This idea derives from the Christian notion that the ruler’s realm is circumscribed and there are limits beyond which he simply must not go….Our modern idea of limited government takes the Christian notion of space that is off-limits to state control and extends it to the whole private sphere….The separation of the realms should not be a weapon against Christianity; rather, it is a device supplied by Christianity to promote social peace, religious freedom, and a moral community. If we recovered the concept in its true sense, our society would be better off.” Capitalism satisfied the Christian demand for an institution that channels selfish human desire toward the betterment of society. The Christian faith has influenced literature in such Christian writers such as Dante, Chaucer, Donne, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, etc. While much modern art seems to debase the human spirit, classical Christian art tries to bring out the best of mankind-pointing us to a higher plane. “In every case in which Christians are blamed for violence, a closer look largely exonerates Christians.
Awakening Compassion at Work, by Immanual Joseph
Immanual Joseph interviewed Jane and Monica on their lessons from decades long research on workplace compassion, and their new book Awakening Compassion at Work. The book is grounded in compassion in organizations research, and it really tries to make that research accessible to people who want to change their own organizations and create more compassion in their own work lives. MW: One more reason that I think we don’t associate compassion and work sometimes is that when you ask people about compassion in the workplace, they may be may be thinking about really grand scale moves. Maybe they’re thinking about whether their organization has compassion training or a chief compassion officer or something like that that’s very formal. One of the important things that happens to people in the course of their careers often is that they encountered some kind of significant pain or suffering and they receive compassion from unexpected sources and they realize that this compassion that they have received has been so important and that’s in fact they need to challenge those fears and beliefs that they’re holding until they may significantly change their outlook over time to become more open to the importance of compassion. JD: I think our belief is that part of the problem with having people recognize the value of compassion is that there’s much more articulation of the cost and the fear of compassion as opposed to articulation and appreciation of the benefits of compassion. So one point I want to make is that I think we focus a lot more on potential downside of compassion and we don’t feel fully recognize the full spectrum of the benefits to compassion. MW: For any person taking stock of compassion in their work life they can ask themselves to think the last time they experienced compassion in their work. Just calling to mind and sharing of stories of giving receiving and witnessing compassion are really powerful ways of taking stock of where compassion is around you and your work and of actually building it and sharing it by remembering the story and reminding yourself of the presence of compassion. IJ: What do you think of incentivizing compassion in the workplace? Larger organizations are capable of highlighting and rewarding compassion, and have formal programs around compassion. MW: A lot of the symbolic things that organizations can do like naming a role Chief Compassion Officer are really important signals that the organization values compassion. Leaders can be modeling compassion as they lead, or not modeling compassion as they lead. That is as a powerful form of modeling for the rest of the organization’s about what’s valued and what’s appropriate and what’s going to be supported.