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Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong

 Step Nine: Part One – Concern for Everybody

In the midst of a Global Community experiencing overpowering violence in thought, word and deed, we are entrusted with a profound, loving call, Concern for Everybody.  As I hear the plea, a trio arises: Concern, Care and Empathy!  These three closely connected words slide together into empathy as together they share Brene Brown’s incredible healing message about empathy, “You’re not alone.”  Together we are one, and with open hands may we feel inspired to give compassion and love to the Global Community – a Community of all, our Earth Community. 

We each have a place in the Earth Community.  However, we are challenged to be interdependent, so interdependent that it can be overwhelming.  As sisters and brothers our mission is to know one another, to be concerned about all of our sisters and brothers, near and far, and to understand diverse national, cultural, and religious traditions.  As I reflect on these thoughts, I remember living in Brooklyn, New York when immigrants frequently arrived on New York’s shores, close to the Statue of Liberty.  

Now we build walls to stop immigrants from entering portions of our Earth Community.  Conflict among people and nations enters into our daily lives.  Strangers have become part of our lives.  Our challenge is to stretch out and offer concern, care and empathy to our sisters and brothers within our reach.  Yet, our hearts must remember the whole Earth Community needs us.      

Today, September 5, 2020, I sit with mystery, worry, fear and confusion about the future of ourselves and the Earth Community.  The more I read and hear, the more worried, confused, and reactive I become.  I try to be observant of Karen Armstrong’s suggestion, “to expand our mindfulness practice to encompass the way we think and speak about people from other countries, cultures, ethnic groups, or religions.”   Each day the greatest sorrow, I experience, is the suffering of children worldwide and feeling so incapable of bringing comfort to their lives.

We all know that there is so much needing our concern, care and empathy.  I close with two thoughts: the first is a hope and desire to live a nonviolent lifestyle in thought, word and deed.  The second is to offer the Loving Kindness meditation for yourself and others. 

A closing thought from Sharon Salzberg –

Loving Kindness is a profound recognition that our lives have something to do with one another, that everyone counts, everyone matters.