Compassion and the Real Meaning of the Golden Rule – Brain Pickings
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect. We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. Compassion can’t be enacted without first grasping its essence in a way that reclaims it from the realm of abstraction and makes it an actionable quality. Compassion is aptly summed up in the Golden Rule, which asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else. Compassion can be defined as an attitude of principled, consistent altruism. The immense public veneration of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama shows that people are hungry for a more compassionate and principled form of leadership But in many ways compassion is alien to our modern way of life. Armstrong laments – and I wistfully agree – that compassion has slipped woefully low in our hierarchy of cultural priorities.
‘Compassionate’ Conservatism Was a Mistake
Today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. The modern Republican Party has risen above its insecurities to achieve political success. Small government conservatism was, by definition, compassionate – offering every American a way up to self-determination and economic prosperity. Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because voters no longer saw Republicans as the party of limited government. Their failure to do so must not be misconstrued as a rejection of principles of individual liberty by the American people. The evidence suggests we are still a nation of pocketbook conservatives most happy when government has enough respect to leave us alone and to mind its own business. Of course, FDR’s election ushered in the New Deal, the most dramatic expansion of government power in American history, together with policy changes and economic uncertainty that inhibited investment and growth and locked in massive unemployment for nearly a generation. In 1992, Republican backbenchers including Newt Gingrich, myself, Bob Walker and John Boehner rose up to challenge the Clinton administration’s agenda on taxes, spending and government-run health care. We captured control of Congress in 1994 because we had confidence in our principles, and in the American people’s willingness to understand and reward a national vision based on lower taxes, less government and more freedom.
Better World Quotes
“Democracy” is one of the most important principles for a better world. Economic freedom – not democracy, and not ecological stewardship – is the defining metaphor of the WTO and its central goal is humanity’s mastery of the natural world through its total commodification. Democracy needs support and the best support for democracy comes from other democracies. The real world of American society is one which it is very misleading to call simply a democracy. “If our modern world should be able to recapture this power, the earth’s natural resources and web of life would not be irrevocably wasted within the Twentieth century.True democracy founded in neighborhoods and reaching over the world become the realized heaven on earth. And living peace, not just an interlude between wars, would be born and would last through the ages.” – John Collier. The modern infrastructures that exists in the world all contribute to the advancement of human rights and democracy. As a people, we need to rise to the level of forcing our leaders to abide by our stated principles – really exercise democracy, not only on our behalf but on behalf of the world. “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples. Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. Most of the poverty and misery in the world is due to bad government, lack of democracy, weak states, internal strife, and so on.
Canada is a perplexing concept; our country can often be conceptualized in shimmering positivity, and then, upon closer inspection can be dragged through the dusty and bloody streets of reality. MacLennan’s Two Solitudes is an obvious example of cultural paradoxes within the “Narrative” of Canada, as is the the story of the Winnipeg General Strike. In recent weeks, I have also been struck by an increasingly larger divide in Canada that is often left unarticulated – that is our image as a massive expanse of natural beauty contrasted with our 400 year history of resource exploitation. What follows in the film is a shocking barrage of the treatment of the first peoples of Canada and the land itself. The fellow in the coffee shop who works for Suncor, is part of a system of resource exploitation that destroys these vast and wild lands. As Canada delves further into oil sands development, pipeline construction, and dependence on fossil fuels, so too continues the dichotomy of Canada. No, Canada’s sick duality can only be synthesized into a sustainable vision through social and political action. Canada’s reputation in the global community has soured as of late; we no longer lead in peacekeeping, we rank first in deforestation, and our record on treating our indigenous peoples speaks for itself. I would reckon that we have an opportunity to build a better Canada – one that is sustainable, innovative, compassionate, and inclusive. First we need to take the collective action necessary to shed the dichotomies of the past and create one singular and positive vision based on respect for the land and each other.