Karen Armstrong is a British author who has written many books on comparative religions. A former Catholic sister, she won the prestigious TED Prize for ideas to change the world. Her idea was to formulate a “Charter for Compassion” that could be endorsed by people of all faiths all over the world.
The charter would be based on the Golden Rule. We Christians associate the Golden Rule with Jesus’ “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” found in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. But the Golden Rule is also found in the other two Abrahamic religions: Judaism and Islam. In addition it is found in the ancient religions of Egypt, China, India, Greece, Persia, and Rome.
TED gave Armstrong the resources to formulate the charter. She set up a website soliciting ideas. Literally thousands of individuals from 100 different countries offered suggestions. The Charter of Compassion was unveiled on November 12, 2009 in Washington D.C. At its launch it was endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and many other notable religious leaders.
The charter’s supporting organization is called Charter for Compassion International (CCI) which has 311 communities in 45 countries worldwide. Each year the ICC names a city as its model city of compassion. From 2012 to 2015 Louisville, Kentucky took that honor. Their signature event was a city-wide volunteer day. In 2015 over 166,000 Individuals in Louisville volunteered on that one particular day. After an Islamic Center was vandalized in Louisville, the city organized a clean-up day. The very next day over 1,000 people came to help clean up what had been vandalized.
Some of you are probably familiar with the Charter. Some of you may even have endorsed the Charter. The Charter has been translated into 30 languages and over 2 million people have endorsed it. Here is a link to their website:
And now, I offer three short videos. In this first one (3 1/2 mins.) Karen Armstrong herself explains why and how she came up with the idea for this charter:
The second video is a group of individuals reciting the Charter for Compassion (2 mins.):
The third video is a song entitled “Compassion” by Andrew Witt. My favorite line: Maybe I can’t change the world, “but I can change the world for one.”
I would love to hear your ideas concerning the Charter for Compassion and/or the song.
PS: I will be giving a presentation at the St. Cyril Spiritual Center this Saturday morning, March 25, in Danville, PA (phone: 570-275-3581). The presentation is entitled “Four Traits of a Healthy Spirituality: Wonder, Friendship, Courage, and Hope.” I hope to see a few of you there!