Acting Out of Compassion


For the last five years, I have been meeting almost every month with Father Treacy, co-founder of the Treacy Levine Center that became Paths to Understanding. One of the themes in our conversations is the power of acting for the good of our neighbor, and acting with our neighbor for the good of the larger community.

I am honored to be among the few to meet with him in these days of reduced physical capacity (he is 103 years old!). We spoke this week, and I shared with him the progress we are making on our Let’s Go Together (LGT) initiative. The core of LGT is an insight from ancient wisdom traditions. It is simple, replicable, and powerful:

  • Know each other
  • Do good for and with each other
  • Publicly associate with each other

Father Treacy and I talked about how often people of faith can become too tightly focused on what they believe, instead of taking action out of love for and with our neighbors. This is not to say that our beliefs are not important. They are. But the purpose of a wisdom tradition is to help us understand how to be human beings and human communities in the real world. The real world that we see right now is a world in which social cohesion is dangerously weak.

Father Treacy, with tears of compassion in his eyes, shared his deep concern for the loss of trust and mutual love our nation and world is experiencing. Then he said:

Talking is not as important as acting out of compassion for each other and the whole human family. Churches, Temples, and Mosques need to work with each other to benefit our neighbors. This is critical right now.

It is.

Right now, our team is developing the Let’s Go Together curricula that will help churches in towns and small cities find their motivation for working with other wisdom traditions and cultures. To do good for and with each other, to know each other, to show up in public with each other.

I told Father Treacy that I think we underestimate the power of an act of compassion. But every time I have had a major change in attitude in my life, it is because I got to know someone and experienced respect and care from them.

He said, “That is what I experienced with the Rabbi.” Rabbi Levine founded the groundbreaking multi-faith TV show Challenge and went on to co-found the Treacy Levine Center for interfaith dialogue together with Father Treacy.

I said, “Yes, and out of that you associated yourself with him in public as a sign of how we can respect and love each other across differences.”

“Yes,” he said. “It changed my life.”

May all our lives be so changed by going together into our communities and neighborhoods.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash