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Naïve Idealism vs a Wake-up Call to Reality


A global event occurred in September 1893 in Chicago. By the way, in that same year the World's Fair, called the Columbian Exposition, was held in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World. It took us another hundred years before we were to acknowledge that it was the Native Americans who discovered explorers on their land.

The global event referred to is the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions. It happened just a decade after Chicago's Great Fire and right after New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote. To give further perspective to the 1890s decade, it was dominated by war; Sino-Japanese, Italian-Ethiopian, Greco-Turkish, Philippine-American and the Boer War. Countries were marking their territories and colonies. Scientific discoveries boomed: radioactivity, X-rays and helium were discovered and Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius and US geologist, Thomas Chamberlin suggested that CO2 emissions might cause global warming.

The World's Parliament of Religions occurred in what was seen at the time as naïve idealism, with its organizers professing a hopeful universalism that would draw the adherents of many faiths into a single ethical vision. In a paper written to promote the upcoming Parliament, they said it would aim "to unite all Religion against Irreligion; to make the Golden Rule the basis of this union; and to present to the world the substantial unity of many religions in the good deeds of the religious life." (Charles Bonney, "Words of Welcome")

There have been seven Parliaments of World Religions, as it is referred to now, since that first one in Chicago in 1893. This October 16-18, the world can gather virtually. The idealism and optimism continue but hopefully we have learned enough in 128 years to change the past's naivety into today's necessary march to reality. Register for the Parliament. The Charter for Compassion is sponsoring a track of workshops, our founder, Karen Armstrong, will be a keynote. Drop into the Exhibit Hall and pick up some PDFs to read later, join us in our Charter Lounge.

With warm regards,

Marilyn Turkovich

This message from Marilyn Turkovich, Executive Director of the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 10/03/2021 weekly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu, in the newsletter section enter your email address and click on subscribe.

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