I went to hear the religious commentator Karen Armstrong at New-Unity Unitarian Church in Newington Green on Saturday 19th March. Ms Armstrong was fantastic and really inspiring.
Here are some points from Karen Armstrong’s lecture:
- Tribalism may have helped us survive at some remote point in the human past; however now tribalism is dangerous, and because we are now completely dependent/interdependent globally we must recognize that we are one people now and behave accordingly.
- The 'Golden Rule' is the foundation for compassionate thought and action; make a place for 'the other' in our heart and minds.
- In true compassionate dialogue with the other, you will be fundamentally unsettled, your point of view will be shaken (like Socrates); beware of a superficial/simplistic/dismissive characterization of the other ('you would pluck out the heart of my mystery..'); you might have to let the huge amount of suffering in the world affect and change you.
- A harsh strain of Islam from Saudi Arabia has come to the fore in the past 40 yrs promoted by power/influence of money; prior Islam was predominantly Sufi influenced, tolerant and compassionate.
- Don't wait for political and religious leaders to lead compassionate action; individuals should immediately use opportunities in their own lives and networks to take action themselves; Indian and Pakistani business people are doing this already; cities and communities becoming 'Compassionate Cities'; promote global compassion not just local community compassion.
She mentioned how uncomfortable it is when Westerners make large shows of solidarity and grief for the murder of Westerners by Isis et al, but not for the murder of Muslims in the Middle East or the 3rd world (which is a larger scale), and our leaders continue to engage with the Saudis etc. and she said this is noticed by Muslims worldwide. She said she wishes people would leave flowers at these other non-Western embassies and organisations to show solidarity and support after a massacre.
Now with this latest attack in Brussels, I have the idea of asking whether any other congregations might want to form a group that would monitor the news for terrorist attacks on Muslim populations, and then take it in turns bringing flowers to their London embassies or other visible significant organisations/businesses, to show condolences and support, with a tag giving individual names but also their Unitarian congregation name. Perhaps it could be a 'duty' traded monthly.
What do you think?
Comment on this blog or see my Facebook post on the 'Unitarians' closed group.
submitted by Lori Winters, Chair of Lewisham Unitarian Meeting House