In Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong offers a different vision of how power and privilege can be leveraged for more than the gain of individuals or special interest groups. Her discussion begins with the principle of the Golden Rule, articulated in each of the world’s religious traditions and with particular concern for family, community, and political life by Confucius in 5th century BCE China:
“In political life, Confucius explained, if we seek to establish ourselves, we should seek also to establish others; if we wish status and success for ourselves, we should make sure that others have it too; if we wish to turn our merits to account, we should make sure that others have the same opportunity. Has your nation been guilty of oppressing or even destroying other peoples in the past or in the present? How compassionate are its penal and social systems, its health care and environmental policies? Are its financial institutions guilty of me-first greed? How does your nation treat immigrants and ethnic minorities? Is there gross inequality between rich and poor? Is tribalism rife in your society? Are there signs of aggressive territorialism, hostility to rivals, contempt for outsiders, and fear of invaders? Is there a compulsion to belong, conform, and follow leaders uncritically?
“It is crucial to educate the young in the compassionate ethos. Are the children of your nation encouraged to relate with respect to their peers, their teachers, and foreigners? What do their textbooks teach about other races and peoples? Are students taught enough about the history of the nation so that they understand its flaws as well as its triumphs? Are there problems of drinking, drugs, violence, and bullying in your schools?…If you work with technology, perhaps you could create a computer game that would accustom children to putting themselves into the shoes of a victim of bullying, a homeless person, a refugee, a new immigrant, an impoverished family, a person with physical or mental challenges, or a racially ostracized person.” (p. 72-73)
–Project for Community Transformation