Editors James Langford and Leroy S. Rouner include Karen Armstrong’s essay on the growing importance of compassion in a post-9/11 world in their collection, Walking with God in a Fragile World. In “Seeing Things as They Really Are,” Armstrong writes:

"These are desperate times and the world seems a dangerous place. But for the vast majority of human beings, who are not fortunate enough to live in the First World, it has always been desperate and dangerous. Very few could dream of the security and power symbolized by the towers of the World Trade Center. Now we have joined the dispossessed, but instead of resenting this, we can see it as an opportunity to effect the spiritual revolution which alone can save our troubled world."

  • Reflect on the populations of Second and Third World countries or other people you consider “dispossessed.” Take as much time as you need to imagine a day in their life. Consider the availability of clean water, healthy food, safe and sanitary shelter, etc.
  • Now consider your own spiritual values as well as the values and virtues you associate with democracy in the U.S. Is creativity important to you? How about generosity? Compassion? Forgiveness? Justice? Peace?
  • Brainstorm on how you can apply your values to economics, education, employment, the environment, etc. Jot down your ideas as you brainstorm. When you feel complete, circle one to three items to follow through on, and commit to doing so.
Habib Todd Boerger, Karen Armstrong in Walking with God in a Fragile World by James Langford, Leroy S. Rouner