World-renowned peace activist speaks at SF College


Published: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 10:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 10:53 p.m.

Michael Allard didn’t have any questions. Just a heart that felt touched.

After hearing the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell’s speech at Santa Fe College on Friday night, he stood and raised his hand.

“I just want to say thank you,” he said. “I don’t have a question. It was a very moving ceremony.”

Allard, 51, had just watched in wonder with roughly 200 other students and community members at the “Charter for Compassion” ceremony as Campbell, an internationally renowned peace activist, explained why compassion is so necessary in a world of so many faiths.

She was greeted with a standing ovation when she finished. Then she presided over the ceremony while SF College president Jackson Sasser signed the charter.

“It is a high, high honor,” Sasser said as he smiled at Campbell, touched her shoulder and held the freshly penned paper out to the crowd.

As a dual enrollment professor at Santa Fe, Allard said he felt a closer sense of kinship after the ceremony.

“It was about connecting with people,” he said. “To me, that’s an important ideal. Stop seeing each other as strangers and know we are more alike than different. It’s wonderful to see something like that.”

Campbell spoke about the Charter for Compassion, a cooperative effort to restore compassionate thinking to the center of religious life and transcend ideological and national differences, and how important that mindset is for the future.

“God cannot be owned or contained in one religion alone,” Campbell said.

In explaining why global compassion is imperative, Campbell didn’t yell; she didn’t whisper. She spoke with determination, like a woman who has witnessed the tragedies of violence.

“How do we create a society of equality?” she asked the audience. “How do we deliver compassion in our own country?”

It’s no easy feat, she said.

She would know. During the civil rights movement, Campbell worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On Friday night, she recalled his courage, his warmth, his kindness.

She said people used to tell King that his work was eventually going to get him killed.

“It may be so,” was always his reply.

That’s what makes correcting a violent world both heart-breaking and challenging, she said — the sacrifices that people have to make.

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