Some time ago I watched the acceptance speech of Karen Armstrong after she received her TED Prize.
TED Prize winners are encouraged to make a 'prize wish', in which they detail their vision of how we can make
our world a better place. Karen's prize wish was to see the creation of a Charter for Compassion in which
leading members of all the world's major religions come together to recognise the common threads which underlie
all their faiths.
If you knew me well, you would be aware that I do not subscribe to any religion, yet Karen's message rings true for me too.
In a world where fundamentalism, difference and conflict are on the rise, it is crucial that those of us who wish to promote
acceptance and love of difference in the world take action to promote this. It is no good just sitting about tutting when
the fearers and the haters are raising armies of destruction.
To some the idea of compassion may seem a little dull or boring, something they cannot relate to in our fast-paced,
exciting and very self-centred Western culture. The word raises images of Mother Theresa toiling tirelessly to help
people in desperate need. Many people cannot relate to the apparently massive level of altruism that she displayed.
But to me, this is something that raises a burningng passion inside me, not unlike that displayed by
during Live Aid. It is not at all unselfish.
My single overriding motivation is the protection of my daughters. I want them to grow up in a world where
love is in
the ascendancy. This is by no means certain in a volatile world in which resources are running out. We face a stark choice,
between cooperation with our fellow humans to find new ways to sustain the species or bitter violent struggle over the
dwindling resources we use now. There cannot be the cooperation without an understanding that we are all one.
People need to stop thinking about stupid petty divisions such as nationality or religion, otherwise there will
soon be no nationalities or religions because everyone will be dead.
Every one of us has to stand up and be counted. Stand up and say 'I choose love.' Then to do something. Whatever feels natural.
To foster love and friendship with other members of our species. To show small minded people that there is another way,
a better way. The only way in which we can survive.
Of course, not everyone can live a life of service like Mother Theresa. Not everyone has the influence of Bob Geldof or Bono.
But we can all do something every day to help make it a better world. We can all choose to smile, to accept, to show kindness
to the people we meet in everyday life. When we do this, there is a knock on effect. Those people who we touch are more likely
to act in a positive, loving manner to the people that they meet. In that way, one smile or one compliment can create a wave
of happiness that spreads across a nation. Likewise, a frown or an unkind word can do the same. Are you taking responsibility
for the way you are treating the people you meet every day?
"Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, we send forth a
tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a
current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." - Robert Kennedy (7 June, 1966)
Improving the lot of others does not have to mean giving away all your money or giving up your job to work in Africa.
If we all committed to simple gestures of loving kindness on a daily basis, the world would be transformed and the fear
which might otherwise lead us towards self-destruction can be relieved for good.
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