Karen Armstrong and the Charter for Compassion

Karen Armstrong and the Charter for Compassion

More on the science of compassion:

In 1969 the U.S. Government set up a lottery for the draft. Being 25 years old at the time, I was affected. In fact, I was number 36, which meant that a week later I was off getting a pre-induction physical.


I wanted to sign up as a conscientious objector, but being Catholic, I couldn’t do that. Catholic Theology held that there was such a thing as a just war. If I were going to succeed in that strategy of protest against the Viet Nam War, I would have to renounce my religion and join the Quakers or some other religion that held no such beliefs. Of course, if I did that, I’d be accused of just trying to avoid combat. As a Catholic, I could not sign up as a Conscientious Objector, but was expected to join in this “just” war.


So here I am 40 plus years later and although I’m too old and there is no draft, we in the United States are still talking war. I’m reminded of the words of Pete Seeger in his song, Where Have All The Flowers Gone: “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?” In this Ted Talk, Karen Armstrong tells the moving story of a much earlier war, the Trojan War and about the three characters of Achilles, Hector and Priam. More importantly she tells us what she believes is religion’s role in stopping this craziness. She is very scientific in that she defines terms like god, religion for us and most importantly maps out a plan of action.

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