I was thrilled to learn of your work with the Charter for Compassion. Your book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life had us all wondering if you are in recovery, but that’s probably a nosy question.
I do relate to your story of cab drivers and others dissing religion. I’ve done a fair amount of that, myself. And you must admit, there have been many horrific events carried out in the name of God. Hitler himself was raised by a devout Catholic mother. Remember the Crusades? I think the root of the problem is that God has typically been considered male, and all the major religions are patriarchal. But this conversation will have to wait for another time…
The aspect of what you are teaching in your book that I wish to challenge is The Golden Rule. It does exist in similar forms in many patriarchal teachings, and has a nice ring to it:
The bible quote that created this ‘rule’ is: "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets." ~ Matthew 7:12 (Here we go again with the patriarchal thing: no mention of women!) "Love thy neighbor as thyself," is another attempt at this cliche'. But what if you don't love yourself so much?
The Golden Rule is fatally flawed. It gives us permission to assume that we know what ‘the other’ wants or how they desire to be treated.
How about this:
Then we'd have to take the responsibility of actually listening to the other to gain an understanding of what they want and need, rather than just projecting our assumptions onto them.
Compassion is a balanced feminine trait (not that men can’t be compassionate) and it's time to contradict the heavy, out-of-balance masculine energies that we all have suffered under. It is nobody's fault. We can't blame men, or the patriarchy because we have all participated in the thousands of ways that masculine has been valued over feminine. But Karen, people like you can lead the way in shifting the culture away from making assumptions about other cultures, other people's experiences, and help us all become aware of how religious teachings have promoted an agenda of imposition and control on unsuspecting victims. The missionary movement of the 1800s comes to mind.
I am an ordained minister with a wilderness church in East Texas, the Universal Ethician Church. My church has no laws or rules, but just one tenet: Do unto others as they wish to be done unto. To open ourselves to the stories of others, and to continue to ask, "What do you need? How can I help?" is the kindest approach and cultivates our ability to listen deeply and understand other's needs.
With deep regard,
Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I had never thought this through and thanks to you, I now understand the greater calling of compassion: to listen deeply to a person's experiences so that I can gain a deeper committment to helping in a way that actually works for them. I will be reworking all my materials and writing a new book.
I'm sending a gift of $100,000 to you in gratitude for your note, which has helped me adjust my efforts in a more useful direction. Please use it for any projects that promote your ministry.