Tolerance is a fine practice. It allows us to live near other people. But my dad taught me that it’s not enough. Tolerance is beginner-level human relations. Compassion is the next constructive step. It asks for embrace, not just “to put up with.”
Likewise, kindness and generosity are vital. All religions and most philosophies share these ideals. But compassion requires much more. Its first step is to set aside judgment; to give up our analysis of what that person did that caused his trouble or her want and to stop using our rules of behavior to measure and help another person. When we take time to listen to a person describe what they need without imposing our judgment, we discover both commonality and uniqueness.
This is the unconditional love we’ve all heard about. It’s really hard, even within our own family of people like us. Offering it to all persons in Spokane, in revised practices of all organizations in Spokane, is what the Charter for Compassion asks of us.
I’m proud that my city leaders have embraced this ideal, and I look forward to the behaviors and activities which will make it true.