Karen Armstrong's Three Socratic Question to Ask
by Karen Armstrong
8 months ago
Karen Armstrong has provided us with a way to address the conflict dominating the world and the news:
How do we apply the Golden Rule, which requires us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict this pain on anybody else, to the violence in Libya and Cairo? Remember that Socrates, founder of the Western rational tradition, insisted that we stringently question every single one of our certainties and received opinions. Confucius said: “Use your own feelings as a guide to your treatment of others.”
1] What do you feel when you see your own sacred traditions, your heroes, your national symbols, your flags, embassies and their personnel attacked and insulted?
2] And how do you carry that through to your assessment of the “other side” of this conflict?
3] Try to put yourself in the position of the “other side” ~ as the compassionate ethos demands ~ and ask yourself “How much do I really know about their history of pain, achievement, oppression, disappointment, fear, idealism, and aspiration ~ all of which, on both sides, have contributed to this violence?
If you find, in answer to question 3, that your know very little, then try to inhabit that doubt. As Socrates says, when you realize how little you know, you have become a philosopher! See Step 7 of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
As American Muslims said clearly last week: The makers of the abusive film do not represent America, and the attackers do not represent Islam.
Last month Karen Armstrong spoke at conference of The Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in North America. At the conference ISNA stated that it is committed to implementing the Charter for Compassion. As the unrest in Libya spreads, Karen Armstrong has sent along reading to provide a deeper and more careful look at the situation.