Thursday, November 12, 2009

Karen Armstrong's Charter for Compassion

Religious scholar and TED Prize winner Karen Armstrong had a wish, a wish that the representatives of major religions around the world might enter into an international inter-faith dialogue and that religious and non-religious people everywhere might engage with each other in similar conversation to promote understanding, tolerance, and peace.

Armstrong called for a Charter for Compassion to "bring the world together".

The Charter for Compassion is realized. As announced today to the global TED community, the Charter reads:
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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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This simple document was "created by thousands of people" and it is destined to be shared by thousands upon thousands more — on blogs such as mine, via social media such as FaceBook and Twitter (and whatever other media, such as art, are available to spread the word), from the pulpit of your church, through "compassion events" you might consider hosting yourself.

Armstrong's idea is worth spreading. I've added my name to the list of affirmers. Take a moment to read the Charter and consider adding your name. Think first, because when you sign your name to the list, you won't just be affirming words that sound good but committing yourself to living a different way, a way that restores to us the meaning of being human.


Joyce Wycoff said...

Maureen ... this may be one of the most exciting and hopeful things I've seen for some time. I immediately put it on my Facebook page. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Dianna Woolley said...

This is an amazing document. I will be sharing it with my readers at the MindSieve. Thank you so much!!!