The Charter for Compassion: Karen Armstrong’s Use of her TED prize

The marvelous writer about religion and matters spiritual Karen Armstrong won a TED prize in 2008 and set out to use the money and the spotlight it gave her to create a Charter for Compassion to counter the effect of religiously inspired violence and hatred. She collaborated on line with leaders from all the major religious faiths and the result is being supported across all faiths as well as secular thinkers.

You can find out more about this and affirm your support at:

But as this approach is so consistent with this blog, I set out the Charter for Compassion in full:

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.

Her excellent TED acceptance speech is at:

I am reading her recent and associated book: ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life‘ and will review that separately

This is Karen, who I think was once a neighbour of mine in north London:

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict Processes, Middle East Conflict, Religious Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Charter for Compassion: Karen Armstrong’s Use of her TED prize

  1. Jim Melfi says:

    Thank you for this Karen Armstrong post and for sharing her Charter for Compassion. I first became aware of her from her talk at Chautauqua. I also enjoyed her TEDTalk as well as Robert Wright’s interview with her at Slate’s The Meaning of Life. Thank you for putting together this robust site! Jim Melfi,

    • Thanks Jim. I hope to meet her/hear her in person one of these days probably in London. I think she was a neighbour of mine as I recognized her photo but didn’t know what she did. Such is life. I love your Video Talks website and often use it to find interesting talks. I also subscribe to the great MIT series that you include. Time for another look at your stuff.

  2. jmelfi says:

    Thanks for your kind words regarding my site. I plan to look into your recommended links page. PeaceMap caught my eye. It looks as if you are nearing your 10,000 visitors goal. Was that an arbitrary number or what? I agree about the MIT site. The Long Now is also good but many of their videos exceed an hour. Jim Melfi

    • Jim. I was hoping to work with Peace Map but didn’t get much response. Their approach looked really great. Some of the other sites are pretty cool. And I will take a look at Long Now.

      I am a target driven sort of guy from my time in the corporate sector, and 10,000 hits seemed like a good goal, but it was arbitrary. I even got 463 hits in one day! And 1700 in one week, so maybe I should be bolder. 🙂

      But I am very much trying to change the world on how it handles conflict, one person at a time, and learning a lot in the process of running this blog. The thing that truly amazes me is that practically no one looks at the stuff around handling their personal conflict. I think folk are in such denial about that. They prefer to read about the middle east or whatever; I have come to think they are scared of opening the can of worms called internal conflict or personal conflict. Not sure how to address that.

  3. Jim Melfi says:

    What strategies do you use in getting word out about your site? Jim Melfi

    • Jim, this is a tough one. I use my personal Facebook page, but I also have a FB page for the blog that I haven’t really exploited. When I am next in London I am supposed to see one of my mentees who is an expert on social media to help me with this question. So far I have just used word of mouth and other bloggers mentioning me and I mention them. And Word Press seemed to have picked me up and given me some traffic. The ideal method that one of my friends benefitted from, was PZ Myers, one of the world’s top bloggers, mentioned his blog and he got 30,000 hits in one day and the volume then kept steady at a higher level (but not 30K per day).

      My traffic now is steady and wide spectrum, and global, largely via Google searches, as many of my blogs are high up Google search picks on the topics they cover.

      And the most fascinating research finding: everyone loves to search on conflict in the world; no one wants to deal with their own personal conflict. 🙂

      Any suggestions?

  4. Jim Melfi says:

    Daily relevant blog alerts are very key to me and I use Google Adwords with great success. Jim

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