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Musings: Compassion Discoveries

Recently I did a keynote in Pomona, California, organized by Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU). Dick Bunce, the convener who presided on the conference, opened with a comment that “The conference is sponsored by PCU, the venue is in a spacious synagogue and our keynote speaker is Islamic.” That should tell you the tone of this amazing inclusive society. I was amazed to see that the audience consisted of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other faiths. All the races were present and the 300 + participants came from all walks of life. You could see a rainbow of colors, many dressed in their ethnic garbs, and the collective energy in the room provided a palpable ambiance of harmony and compassion. It was equally attended by public agencies as well as local nonprofit organizations and the interfaith community.

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The mayor, Tim Sandoval, gave the second keynote after mine and I was impressed with his share. His commitment to the inclusive community and his openness to share a difficult personal journey along with the vision for Pomona is beyond admirable. In the audience was the Superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District and several other leaders from the local institutions. The Principal, as well as many students from the City of Knowledge School (an exemplary Islamic School), were in the audience and it was very special for me to interact with these students, as I did the commencement address at their school a year ago. While I speak often at various venues, this conference was particularly special as it was inclusive, and the collective energy of understanding and love came through loud and clear.

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In my daily meditation that morning I prayed for the clarity of my message and the Universe answered my prayer as my message resonated deeply with all the participants and the entire room connected as ONE. I wept in gratitude that this is the America I have felt and known since I immigrated here in 1974. This is the America that still exists in spite of the deep polarization that is tearing up our society with distinct negative, intolerant behaviors of various selfish, self-serving tribes determined to separate us. Which is not what our forefathers had in mind! There is no bigger gift we can give our children and grandchildren than an intact democratic society.

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It was so very refreshing to see that this polarization did not exist in Pomona and definitely not in that room. It was there that I learned about the Charter of Compassion. In February of 2008, Karen Armstrong, an acclaimed scholar, and bestselling author won the TED Prize and in her acceptance speech called for “help in creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion, based on the fundamental principle of the Golden Rule .” Here is the link to her TED talk (over 1.5 million views) and very well worth listening to.

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Today, The Charter for Compassion is a document that urges the people and religions of the world to embrace the core value of compassion.  The Charter of Compassion is currently available in more than 30 languages and has been endorsed by more than two million individuals around the globe. 500 cities around the world have embraced compassion as one of their predominant core values – Pomona being one of them and the event title was themed “Compassion in the City. ” Even in the spiritually progressive world in which I live within–spreading nonviolence, empathy, compassion, peace-building, and forgiveness–I was not aware of this Charter. I felt the importance of sharing this with my readers in the hope to inspire you to adopt compassion as an individual core value, the core value of our families, our communities and our cities. There are 4,416 cities in the world with a population of over 150,000–think about what our world would look like if we all adopted Compassion as our core value. This is a worthwhile effort to share with your legislators and sphere of influence – especially now before we lose what has taken America 240 years to build!

Many other countries in the world are also suffering from polarization and the world order is being severely challenged. The move towards a strongman populist order is not the way to go. That resides in the EGO whereas compassion is the quintessential spiritual value of the Universe. Wherever you reside, a collective effort to spread compassion can help steer the world that works for everyone. That is critical for the survival of our species and planet. Be sure to do your part!

Peace and Blessings,

Azim N. Khamisa

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Azim Khamisa

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