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Life Arts

Create the Compassionate Society

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In his Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 , President John F. Kennedy hinted at what a compassionate citizen must look like.   There he said: 

"Now the trumpet summons us again--not as a call to bear arms...but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation....--a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.... 

 And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you- -ask what you can do for your country." 

President Kennedy was calling for a different kind of action.   He was calling for what I have begun to call "True Service." 

True Service is dedicated work done in the world which includes a consideration of its effect on others.   It is not charity. It rests on a redefinition of work itself.   In practical terms, this means that any task can be done in one-way or the other. Any job, any work, can be done by using the power of that effort solely for one's own benefit or by looking out for the benefit that job's real purpose has for others: whether it is President of the United States, a football coach or a garbage collector.     True service is achieved when any job unites power and purpose in benefit to the public. 

The Compassionate Society       

When a massive tragedy, like Sandy Hook occurs our compassion as a society has a tendency to come rushing to the fore.   There is nothing wrong with this.   However, compassion is more than just a feeling.   Compassion is a value that can form the basis for every day action -- not just charitable action or emergency response.   Compassion can and must become a new preferred basis for action.   Compassion, instead of rushing forth in response to tragedy, must become that steady flow which forms the devotional basis of True Service.     


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[i] Motivation and Personality,   at 217-218.

[ii] European flights jump as volcanic ash clears and Germany, France reopen airspace, by Edward Cody and Karla Adam, Washington Post, April 22, 2010.

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[iii] Welt On Line News Service May 10, 2009.

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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)

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Some may doubt the practical applicability of t... by Eric Lucas on Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 at 2:08:51 PM
I love your saying that compassion is not weakness... by Suzana Megles on Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 at 4:05:05 PM
Thanks for the comment.  And thank you for re... by Eric Lucas on Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 at 6:15:03 PM
Very well done, Eric. I agree that we need to show... by Howard Schneider on Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 at 9:11:20 PM
Howard thanks for your comment. And thank for... by Eric Lucas on Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 2:53:31 AM
"Now the trumpet summons us again"O yet a nobler t... by R. A. Landbeck on Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 5:14:10 AM
Thanks for this quote. EZL... by Eric Lucas on Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 1:31:25 PM
 Sir, Has Kennedy said anything about wh... by Ad Du on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 at 8:57:19 PM
Thanks for the comment, although I have to admit I... by Eric Lucas on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 at 10:10:13 PM
When a massive tragedy, like Sandy Hook oc... by Eric Lucas on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 at 10:24:25 PM
When a massive tragedy, like Sandy Hook oc... by Eric Lucas on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 at 10:28:01 PM
What are your ideas toward promoting a more Compas... by Matthew Jacobs on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 11:11:45 PM
Thanks for the comment.  Thanks for the quest... by Eric Lucas on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 1:12:51 AM