maandag 12 oktober 2009

Charter for Compassion

As the saying goes: "What is a consultant without a model?" I would like to expand that saying with "and without empathy?" What can you actually achieve in any organisation, project, or more broadly speaking, in any interhuman contact without empathy? One look into most practices (including my own!, into the newspapers and probably also to yourself, makes it obvious that this seamingly easy and rethoric question is in pointed fact terribly hard. 
The Charter for Compassion, an initiative created by Karen Armstrong, re-establishes the Golden Rule which requires that we use empathy - moral imagination - to put oursevels in others' shoes. We should act toward them as we would want them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause them harm.
I feel this is a great initiative, that I wholeheartedly support. As I see it, we live in a time where the world is increasingly connected by all sorts of transportation and communication tools. But somehow our newly found connectivity is not back upped by this Golden Rule. Rather it seems the opposite: the more possibilities we have to look across the borders of our own lives, both geographically and spiritually, the harder we seem to find it to put empathy into practice. 
Having worked extensively in intercultural projects both on a European and international level, I have become more and more convinced of the need for empathy, the power of empathy but also the difficulties of consciously putting empathy into practice in sometimes even the most trivial of situations. Where there is probably also the most need for it. I hope that this Charter will serve at least as a permanent reminder for myself of the importance and as an inspiration to keep up the 'good struggle' for empathic practice in my work. 

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