In February 2008, when Armstrong won the prestigious TED prize, she asked for help in creating, launching and propagating the charter. Since that day, thousands of people and organizations throughout the world have contributed to its development. Their comments were presented to a group of notable individuals from several faith traditions, who met in Switzerland in February 2009 to compose the final version.
It appears that compassion is something we can all contribute to make the world a peaceful place. “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves,” said Armstrong.
Compassion compels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow beings.
“We need to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being,” Armstrong said, “treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”
The charter proclaims the principle often referred to as the “Golden Rule,” embraced by every faith and every moral code. It calls upon all men and women to restore compassion to the center 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; and to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
The Charter for Compassion was launched on Nov. 12, 2009, in 60 different locations throughout the world. It was enshrined in many synagogues, mosques, temples and churches as well as in secular institutions.
Perhaps the time is coming when something as simple as compassion could heal our world. Haven’t you noticed how one small act of kindness can turn your day or life around? Why not give it a try?