Philadelphia will be offering the world something two of the planets’ great spiritual leaders wish that all living beings could provide: a full day of kindness.
That’s right. My home town will be the site where Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama will visit in September and October of 2015 bringing their messages of peace and brotherly love to a world that deserves more of each. As part of the once in a lifetime gathering, Philadelphia will sponsor “A Day of Kindness” on Oct. 27th, the three hundred and thirty-third anniversary of the founding of Philadelphia by the Quaker William Penn.
The word “Philadelphia” means “brotherly love,” according to the Quaker who founded the city, and it is so fitting that it becomes the site for such an international joining of love and compassion that can be shared by people of all faiths, or no faith at all.
“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” ― William Penn
The Day of Kindness is set for the day after the Dalai Lama receives the Liberty Medal, and a month after Francis visits at the end of the World Meeting of Families. It’s also the date Philadelphia was founded, in 1682.
“His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness the Dalai Lama are our inspiration,” says one of the coordinators of the Day of Kindness at its website, “but this day is about how we can create a kinder city and perhaps a kinder world.”
The website is at www.adayofkindness.org.
William Penn’s statue has graced the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall building for more than a hundred years. I worked in that building trying criminal cases, many of them jury trial representing indigent defendants as a public defender.
I’d often recall what it must have been like for William Penn when he was arrested in England and faced a jury trial.
The Society of Friends leader was passing out pamphlets about a Friends’ meeting when he was arrested and charged for some sort of seditious behavior. The only religion permitted to be practiced in England at the time was by the Church of England, and Penn was calling for a new view of the divine path.
Under the law, Penn was guilty as sin. Yet, several of the Englishmen on his jury refused to convict him despite being thrown into jail for not following the law. The jurors were eventually released, and Penn found not guilty. This act to acquit has long stood for what few Americans know about their own jurisprudence. And that is that a jury can “nullify” a law if they believe it is the right thing to do.
For another look at this jury nullification see: https://contoveros.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/a-jury-can-nullify-a-law-to-stop-injustice/
See you Oct. 27th!