Compassion Gives Us a Second Chance: World Interfaith Harmony Week

In our concluding webinar, we began with a work derived from Charlie Chaplin’s famous final speech from the 1940 political satire “The Great Dictator” (Video link) This clip is attributed to Humanity Awakens. The music used is “Time,” from Hans Zimmer’s “Inception” soundtrack. (link) (Video link to a clip of the original video.)

We turned from Charlie Chaplin to Carl Sagan. The journalist and scientist’s speech the Blue Dot is perhaps one of the most cogent addresses given about humanity and how foolish we behave. The Pale Blue Dot is the colloquial name of the photograph of Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers from Earth.

Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of astronomer and author Carl Sagan. (Video link) The music: “Blue Marble (Mote of Dust Mix)” by Saganspirit (link)

Then we lightened things up with Holly Near, the social change singer recognized many times over— by the ACLU, by the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, Ms. Magazine, and The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. I shared a clip with Roy Zimmerman, “I Ain’t Afraid.” (Video link)

And then we followed Holly Near back to 2003, performing at a national conference of the Bioneers — a nonprofit in New Mexico and California that focuses on solutions to global environmental and cultural problems. She sang, a capella, The Souls Are Coming Back. (Video link)

Born in Ukiah, CA in 1949, Holly began singing in high school, including work with a local folk group. She built on her performing career with acting parts on Mod Squad and appeared in a number of guest roles in seminal 70s TV shows like Room 222 and The Partridge Family. Throughout her long career Holly has worked with a wide array of musicians, including Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Arlo Guthrie, Harry Belafonte, and many others — including Mercedes Sosa.

Sosa became revered as both a victim of and a commentator on the political and social turmoil that afflicted her country of Argentina and the rest of Latin America. She was one of the pioneers of the nueva canción or “New Song” movement. We heard Mercedes Sosa and Holly Near sing Todavía Cantamos. (Video link)

Still we sing, we still ask, still we dream, we still hope,

in spite of the blows It was in our lives

hate’s wit banishing the forgotten — our loved ones.

Still we sing, we still ask,

still dream, still hope;

Still we sing, we still ask, still we dream, we still hope,

in spite of the blows It was in our lives

hate’s wit

banishing the forgotten — our loved ones.

Still we sing, we still ask,

still dream, still hope;

tell us where they have hidden the flowers that sweeten the streets chasing destiny

Where, where they have gone?

Still we sing, we still ask,

still we dream, we still wait;

Give us the hope to know that it is possible

That the garden can lighten with laughter and singing that we love so much.

Still we sing, we still ask,

still we dream, we still hope;

for a different day,

without constraints or fasts

without fear and without crying, because our loves will return to the next.

Our final Holly Near selection was from 2015 from an event honoring the protests against the Vietnam War… Holly Near “Singing For Our Lives.” (Video link)

We finished our webcast with Inti-Ilimani, a folk music ensemble from Chile, formed in 1967 — a group of university students who became popular thanks to their song Venceremos — or We Shall Win… which became the anthem of the Popular Unity Government of Salvador Allende. They, like Mercedes Sosa, are known as part of the nueva cancíon — or new song — movement.

Here performing with the San Carlos Theatre orchestra and choir of Naples, the song “Gracias a la vida” — or Thanks to Life, composed by Chilean composer Violeta Parra, and featuring Latin American greats Claudia Acuña, Beto Cuevas, Jorge Gonzalez, Francesca Valenzuela, and more. (Video link)

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me two stars, which when I open them,

Perfectly distinguish black from white

And in the tall sky its starry backdrop,

And within the multitudes the one that I love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me hearing that, in all of its reach

Records night and day crickets and canaries,

Hammers and turbines, bricks and storms,

And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me sound and the alphabet.

With them the words I think and declare:

“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and light shining down on

The road of the soul of the one I’m loving.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me the steps of my tired feet.

With them I have traversed cities and puddles

Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.

And your house, your street and your garden.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me this heart that shakes its frame,

When I see the fruit of the human brain,

When I see good so far from evil,

When I look into the depth of your light eyes…

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.

It gave me laughter and it gave me tears.

With them I distinguish happiness from pain

The two elements that make up my song,

And your song, as well, which is the same song.

And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

Compassion does give us a second chance. It allows us to hold our infinitesimal role in the universe in balance with the powerful difference we can make in another creature’s life. It enables us to look at the suffering and the joy and see that if the universe is going to bend toward justice, we are going to have to do a little leaning into the grindstone. We have challenges, but we have friends.

I want to encourage you, if you have been moved by these programs, to consider how you can take steps to make compassion a luminous force in your world. Are you part of business or organization that would like to partner with the Charter for Compassion? Do you have interest in one of our sectors — Arts, Business, Education, Environment, Healthcare, Peace, Restorative Justice, Religion & Spirituality, Science & Research, Social Justice, Social Services, and Women & Girls? Apply on our website.

Also, we are working with individuals in over 400 cities and communities worldwide who are developing and implementing action plans to make the place they live more compassionate. Write to us to see if your city is involved, or to start a movement yourself.

We also appreciate your commitment of membership — please consider joining with a one-time or monthly donation at charterforcompassion.org/join.

I want to give public thanks to Marilyn Turkovich, the director of the Charter for Compassion International, for her curating of the videos we watched this week. And I’ll sign off as I have all week, reminding you of the Dalai Lama’s words: Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.

Charter for Compassion

We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world.

CharterForCompassion

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Amplify the compassionate voice in the world. Join Karen Armstrong in her TED-prize winning quest -- sign the Charter now. http://CharterforCompassion.org

Charter for Compassion

We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world.

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