His guest this week was Karen Armstrong, a former British nun who has written extensively about religion and society. Her current project is the Charter for Compassion, a multi-faith project which recognizes and promotes the Golden Rule ("Do unto others") as a common thread running through all major world religions.
Right near the beginning of the interview, I sat up & grabbed for a pen to take notes when Armstrong said this:
"Compassion doesn't mean feeling sorry for people. It doesn't mean pity. It means putting yourself in the position of the other, learning about the other. Learning what's motivating the other, learning about their grievances."
How often have I said, or heard other bereaved parents or infertile couples say, "I don't want pity. I HATE feeling pity from others." What we all want, I think, is some genuine compassion -- to feel that someone is listening to us, at least trying to understand us and what we are dealing with. Being respectful of our experience. "Abiding with us," as Mel at Stirrup Queens has said.
Armstrong feels that compassion is sadly lacking in today's world, and is trying to do something about it. If only there were more such people!
You can read about Armstrong, watch a video of the program or read a transcript at Moyers' PBS site, here.