When I think about this challenge and us as a nation I remember back to last year. Around this time our whole nation was battling against the devastating after-effects of the floods. We were united and full of compassion for one another. One year on – it is Ramadan again and thank God, there is no natural disaster to bring us together, but that does not mean we should not be uniting regardless. Enter the Charter for Compassion.
The Charter for Compassion was launched after TED’s 2008, prizewinner Karen Armstrong expressed a wish. Her wish was to unite people of all faiths and remind them of the golden rule at the heart of every religion – to be a compassionate and loving person towards everyone so we may have such a society.
As a result of that idea, the multi-faith and multi-national council of thinkers and leaders of the world have drafted this charter. The Charter for Compassion Pakistan is a local effort based on that initiative dedicated towards activating the Golden Rule in our country. What better time to make a collective effort for that than during the all-important Muslim month of fasting?
(One of the original videos for the Charter For Compassion Pakistan of which I was a producer and director.)
I love this month. I try to spend it as I do most of the year, with family and friends, active in my community, busy and full of zeal for life despite the pangs in my stomach. I don’t mind being hungry or thirsty, it reminds me to be grateful of how lucky we are not to feel like this all the time and encourages me to engage in efforts to help those who do. Of course this is how we should be all the time, not just for one month.
Ramadan should be a time for joy; love and peace and yet there are people in Pakistan and our world for whom these concepts don’t even exist. You don’t need me to point out what the poor in our country are deprived of and put through every single day. For those of us who are fortunate enough, it is a time to reconnect with our families and faith and reflect on our selves but how many actually do?
There are people who spend most of the day irritable and moody, stuff their faces at Iftari and then fall asleep exhausted after their ruthless gluttony. There are also people who really enjoy this month – they spend their day engaging in the true spirit of it, acts of love and being spiritual.
Surely valuing time with our time with our family, reviving our faith and spirituality and engaging in acts of compassion should be something we do all year round as well? Sadly as most of us don’t – The Charter for Compassion Pakistan releasing this initiative can encourage that. This compassion challenge can help to bring out the best in our selves, our society and maybe even make a sustainable change.
So what is an act of compassion? It is anything nice we do for anyone, family, friends and strangers. A human act that we are able to do lovingly, willingly and generously without expecting something in return. Whether that is putting a smile on one person’s face, a thousand faces, forgiving someone who has wronged us, going out of our way for a family member or friend, giving to those less fortunate than us and even spending time with someone we might not ordinarily, just do something nice for someone.
So whether you are living in Pakistan, a Pakistani living in another part of the world and whatever faith you have, please take on this challenge and not just for this month. Why stop at just thirty acts of compassion for thirty days? Lets just keep doing it from here on after and then Pakistan and our world can hopefully change for the better.
See the Charter for Compassion Pakistan website for more information: http://www.charterforcompassion.org.pk/