Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

A process for developing personal compassion to engage in compassionate community for a more compassionate world

Welcome to Compassionate Sunday. We’re working through Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong, one step per month.

If you’d like to share a post about what you learned about compassion (The First Step), what you’re seeing in your world (The Second Step), self-compassion (The Third Step), empathy (The Fourth Step), mindfulness (The Fifth Step), action (The Sixth Step), how little we know (The Seventh Step), how to speak to one another (The Eighth Step), concern for everybody (The Ninth Step), knowledge (The Tenth Step), recognition (The Eleventh Step), or loving your enemies (The Twelfth Step) use the link list below. Or join the discussion in the comments or on Facebook.

I ended last week’s post about the practices for loving one’s enemies with a question: Who is my Enemy with a capital E?

The easy answer during the election was “Trump supporters.” But, Armstrong says this:

Reflect on the importance of distinguishing individuals from the leaders who preach hatred, and remember that people do not choose to be born into the situation that seems so inimical to you; it is one of the givens of life. (p. 184)

She doesn’t give me much help if I’m willing to focus on the leaders. When I try to focus on rich people in Washington with ties to Russia, a disrespect for science, and a desire to take away health care and public education, I sound like a rabid socialist with conspiracy theories. That gives me some intellectual satisfaction, but it’s not a good starting point for compassion.

So, I’m going with Trump supporters, after all. If I can manage some compassion, it might actually do some good. My conspiracy theories usually involve the word ‘oligarchy.’ I want to join with my fellow Americans to preserve our democracy — as many fellow Americans as possible. That’s going to require some compassion.

Armstrong recommends that I take on a study project. Fortunately for me, Hibernator’s Library has already set up a read-along of the six books that the New York Times recommended to understand Trump’s win. We’ll read one every two months in 2017, beginning with The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer.


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