Three years ago, in March 2017, the City Council of Lake Forest Park passed a resolution declaring our city a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community. The resolution was passed during a time when some of our neighbors faced the fear of harassment, deportation, and the breaking up of their families.
This resolution was brought to us by caring residents – PTA members who were concerned for the immigrant families they had come to know in the schools – and designed to give comfort and alleviate the fear faced by our neighbors and their children. It was based on an earlier resolution passed by the city council in October 2012, affirming the Charter for Compassion – a worldwide effort inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and brought to our city by our beloved neighbor, Ann Stadler.
As with breaking hearts we remember the tragic deaths of George Floyd and so many others, and look out across our nation and see the understandable rage and anguish of people in communities near and far, we are compelled to revisit the words of these resolutions to again affirm our core values and commit to them anew. These are not empty words, but continue to provide guidance and meaning to all that we do as elected officials and city staff in our interactions with each other and our neighbors. They are values we ask our city staff and police officers to live out every day and we hold them accountable to these principles.
We hope that all will join us in reflecting on these core values and how each of us can make them real, so that everyone can live their daily lives without fear. We hope to stop the tragic loss of the joy and quality of life – and of life itself – in our diverse communities to bias, prejudice, and hate.
We all have work to do.
CHARTER FOR COMPASSION The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect. It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others-even our enemies-is a denial of our common humanity.
We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion. We therefore call upon all men and women
~ to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion
~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate
~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures
~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity
~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings-even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
Sincerely and with the deepest compassion,
Jeff Johnson, Mayor
Phillippa Kassover, Deputy Mayor and Council Chair
Tom French, Council Vice-Chair
Mike Harden, Chief of Police
City of Lake Forest Park