A Call to Bring the World Together…

Charter for Compassion screengrab

Since its November 2009, launch, 36,000 people have affirmed the Charter for Compassion. On the Charter for Compassion website, which includes a sampling of the 150,000 contributions consulted as the charter was created, supporters share stories inspired by the charter.

As evidenced by their stories of compassion—a Vancouver man providing care for  his elderly neighbor, a New Yorker in a downpour giving their cab to a stranger without an umbrella, a Boston woman embracing empathy instead of anger—the launch of the charter is just the beginning of a movement wished for by Karen Armstrong as she accepted the 2008 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Prize.

In an interview with Laurie Patton of Religion Dispatches, Armstrong explains that the charter's release marks a first step toward a much longer process she that includes partnerships with interfaith groups and delivery of the charter to world leaders whose nations are in conflict: "What would our world look like if we made deliberate choices, large and small, to be compassionate and kind rather than, simply, right?"

The 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 centre of our world and put another there, and to honour 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 centre 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 indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

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