Creating a More Compassionate Society

peter_maurinIn this last month of the year, I have found myself dipping back into the writings of Dorothy Day. I am rereading parts of her autobiography, “The Long Loneliness.” She and Peter Maurin and the Catholic Worker continue to inspire and shape the way I understand what it means to live a religious life.

Being a Buddhist myself, some of the Catholicism does not resonate. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of striving to live a life rooted in faith and love and forgiveness are solid. The emphasis on voluntary poverty, non-violence, and a willingness to take personal responsibility for effecting positive change in the world are as relevant today as they were when the Catholic Worker was founded in 1933.

Watching the grotesque theater that passes for politics, it is clear that politicians are not going to be able to address the serious issues facing us today. There is just too much money and power to be had by protecting the status quo: A world of greed and hatred.

We, individually and in small groups, must find ways to live lives that value and promote peace and compassion. The seeds of a more compassionate, a more loving, and more peaceful tomorrow are found in the accumulation of innumerable little daily actions, words, and thoughts. It is found in how we treat our neighbors. Do we speak kindly and compassionately about others, or do we engage in gossip and vicious speech? Do we think about those who are difficult, or have wronged us, with compassion and forgiveness or anger and impatience?

This is the hard long term work of creating a more compassionate society. Of course it is not enough to be satisfied with our own inner transformation. We must also do the important work of creating a better world by, “Resisting oppression and assisting the afflicted.” This is where the rubber meets the road. To end war, or end hunger, or protect children from harm and exploitation, we must be willing to work towards these goals in real and concrete ways. We ourselves may not see an end to war or poverty. But if we adhere to non-violence, compassion, and love as our method, we will find the goal is already present in the work that we do.

Life is short. Tomorrow may never arrive. Today, let’s begin to live compassion filled lives so that our children may grow up in neighborhoods, cities, and societies that are free of war and privation.

Peace, Paul

Photo of Peter Maurin care of Jim Forest

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6 Responses to “Creating a More Compassionate Society”

  1. Dr Bob Rich Says:

    Paul, here is contact from a fellow worker for a compassionate world, and, incidentally, a fellow Buddhist.
    Please check out
    We should be able to cooperate.

    • Peace Paul Says:

      Hi Bob. Yes we should indeed be able to cooperate. Peace, Paul

      • Dr Bob Rich Says:

        I am happy to publish a 500 word essay on a topic of your choice in my newsletter Bobbing Around.

      • Peace Paul Says:

        Let me know when your next newsletter is coming out and the theme for that newsletter. I have a lot on my plate at the moment, running a non-profit, helping with our local Buddhist group, and a few other projects that I am trying to keep moving forward. Peace, Paul

      • Dr Bob Rich Says:

        There is always a next newsletter, so no hurry. There is no theme, but regular content in various field, including philosophy, compassionate action, politics, environment, psychology.

        You could write about your nonprofit, inviting support. I do have an announcements section, limited to 200 words.
        Submissions (by you or others) could go to

  2. Dr Bob Rich Says:

    Sorry about the typo. Fields, not field.

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