The problem is our moments of reflection tend to be focused narrowly on our own lives or the small spheres where we live. We make New Year’s Resolutions to improve or change our lives. We want to lose some of our excess weight. We want to restart our exercise program. We want to read a new book each month. We want to finally take care of some of the things on last year’s “to do list.” While I don’t want to minimize any of these or the other things on your resolution list, maybe it is time for us to think bigger.
Why not change our world? A few weeks ago I watched a TED Talk by Karen Armstrong I had not seen even though it was posted in 2008. Karen Armstrong is a religious scholar who has written more than 20 books on faith and the major world religions. She has focused on how these faiths have shaped world history and continue to drive current events. She was the 2008 recipient of the TED Prize, and her wish asked religious leaders around the world to work with the TED community to help her launch the Charter for Compassion. It is a document and a movement focused on the implementation of the Golden Rule around the world as we work together for peace. Her premise is the Golden Rule in one form or another is a part of every major world religion.
I believe too much of religion today drives people apart in a world where we need acceptance, understanding, and relationships. My faith centers in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He said in Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV) the first and greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Then he said the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
He also said in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Karen Armstrong says a lot of religious people would rather be “right” than to be “compassionate,” but I believe we are called to be compassionate. We are urged to even “love our enemies.”
I realize “world peace” is a tall order for a New Year’s resolution, but if we are going to change the world we have to start somewhere. I decided to start with me. I recently finished reading Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. I decided my resolution for this year is “to live a more compassionate life.” I decided to intentionally focus on the incorporation of the Golden Rule into my daily life during 2014. Any of you who know me well will realize the challenge before me. I have to pause long enough to reflect on “the other person” and how my actions will impact them. I have to do a better job of choosing how I live and relate to other people instead of just reacting. I want to live in a more compassionate world, and I decided I needed to start with me. It is not complicated. It is just hard to do.