Social Media Statement: Why the world needs compassion now

How can religion become solely an instrument for peace? How can we prevent the disputes ravaging lives and communities across the world today? Why does the world need more compassion? How can we adopt this ethic of compassion to move toward global peace?

On Tuesday 1st July at the Royal Opera House in London, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and internationally renowned scholar on comparative religions Karen Armstrong FRSL discuss compassion and conflict in the world today. Irina Bokova will explore new forms of solidarity at a time of increasing interdependence, framing this with a call for a new humanism. She will argue for the need to teach compassion, to defend it through cultural heritage and to build new platforms for joint action – highlighting gender equality and new media as frontlines for the century ahead. Karen Armstrong will provide an exposition on her call for compassion in an attempt to change the conflict paradigm, and bring compassion to the forefront of the world’s attention. The event will be chaired by Gethin Abraham-Williams, commentator, academic and former General Secretary of Churches Together in Wales.  

Get involved in the debate by joining the live stream! 

•When: 19.30 - 20.45 (BST) on Tuesday 1st July.

•Link: wno.org.uk/compassion 

•Hashtag: #OWMF 

The story of war, if told in its entirety, could be practically a history of the human race. It is the last resort for the settlement of disputes, driven by either advantage or for vengeance. The struggle for peace is a red thread weaving through the history of humanity.

And it remains so today. Every year, old conflicts worsen, new ones emerge and, occasionally, some situations improve. There is no shortage of storm clouds gathering across the world today. Hotspots present a challenge to the security of people across the globe. In some situations, preventive action has genuine meaning: the collapse into chaos has yet to happen. In others, the catastrophe is already unfolding, so the very notion of prevention is difficult to grasp. In all of these situations, compassion has never been more important – for dialogue, for mutual respect and understanding, for reconciliation. 

World War I broke out on 28 June, one hundred years ago. In the year of its centenary, how do we contend with a global environment that is increasingly multipolar, unpredictable and ravaged by conflicts driven by ethnic and religious divides?

The Maimonides Interfaith Foundation, an international charity that connects people through art, culture and education, along with the Welsh National Opera and UNESCO have teamed up for a debate on these and other questions about conflict in the world today and why the world needs compassion now.  

It is part of a series of talks on faith and culture inspired by the themes of Welsh National Opera’s production of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron which takes to the Royal Opera House’s main stage for two performances in July 2014. The opera draws its themes from the biblical Book of Exodus showing, in the image of Egyptian slavery, a comparison with the unprecedented level of oppression and persecution of the Jews in Hitler's Germany during one of Europe’s darkest hours. Interestingly, in response to the rise of repression and violence, Schoenberg converted back to Judaism from Protestantism.    

WNO’s Faith season of operas is the perfect springboard for an exploration of these issues, which touches all our lives regardless of our beliefs. 

For more information visit: roh.org.uk/events/pdmz2