International Charter for Compassion Launches to Promote The Golden Rule

By Ted Conferences, PRNE
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Karen Armstrong, author of "The Case for God" Joins with Multi-national Council of Religious Leaders to Bring Compassion Back to the Heart of Society

WASHINGTON, November 12 - Karen Armstrong, winner of the 2008 TED prize, along with religious
leaders from around the world, gathered today at the National Press Club to
unveil the Charter for Compassion ( The Charter
is a single document, endorsed by HH the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond
Tutu among others. It was crafted by people from all walks of life,
nationalities, beliefs and backgrounds with the intent to unify, inspire and
bring compassion back into the heart of society. Compassion is the principled
determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and is often
referred to as the Golden Rule - a tenet that is central to all major

At the unveiling, Ms. Armstrong, and religious leaders, called upon the
world to make a commitment to living a life of compassion. Over 60 Charter
for Compassion Plaques, designed by Yves Behar and his team at fuseproject,
will be hung in significant religious and secular locations around the world,
in cities such as New York, Cairo, London, Ramallah, Melbourne, and Buenos
. The design focuses on the power and meaning of the Charter's words
rather than purely the form. Consisting of sustainable maple, simple
construction and laser-engraving, the plaques have a unique and iconic design
reflective of the key messaging of Karen Armstrong. The text can be viewed at

As Ms. Armstrong explains, "Compassion is not the feeling of good will or
pity. Instead it is the principled determination to put ourselves into the
place of the other [that] lies at the heart of all truly religious and
ethical systems."

The Charter for Compassion's Call to Action

The final text of The Charter, unveiled today, calls upon all men and

    -- 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
    -- to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human
       beings ~ even those regarded as enemies.

Celebrating The Golden Rule

Events to commemorate the launch of the Charter are taking place across
the globe from Australia and South Africa to Argentina and Thailand with more
than 100 partner organizations today and in the following week. They include
everything from art exhibits and film screenings to small lectures and large
conferences. Religious leaders will be giving services on compassion and the
Charter in houses of worship this following weekend, November 13-15.

Affirmers from All Walks of Life

Affirmers of the Charter hail from near and far and include luminaries
such as Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Her Majesty Queen Noor
of Jordan, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Candido Mendes, Jody Williams, Deepak Chopra
and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, as well as cultural icons Meg Ryan, Vusi
Mahlasela, and Salman Ahmad.

Origin of the Charter for Compassion

A 2008 winner of the TED Prize and renowned author, Ms. Armstrong has
been working with the TED community to create, launch and propagate a Charter
for Compassion — a document that would bring attention back to the
principles of universal justice and respect that are central to all the
world's great religions.

During the Charter-writing period, people of all faiths, from around the
world, contributed their ideas, suggestions and stories. "I was excited to
join so many different individuals contributing to the Charter's development.
I believe that this Charter will help bring people together to recognize our
interdependence, commit to furthering our mutual wellbeing and act with
compassion for all, not just one's own group," said contributor Vincent
. A Council of Conscience, made up of eighteen renowned religious
thinkers and leaders, then wrote the final version.

"TED is committed to ideas worth spreading, and you can make the case
that the Golden Rule is the best idea humanity has ever had," said Chris
, Curator of TED. "It is an idea that builds on our fragile
biological instincts to care for those close to us and extends it to all.
Without it, we might already have blown ourselves out of existence. In a
world where all of the big problems are global in nature, we need it more
than ever. It can act as a lightning rod to foster collaboration instead of
conflict between the great religions and also provide a common moral cause
with the secular world."

About the Charter for Compassion (

Karen Armstrong had a desire to impact the violence attributed to
religion around the world and wanted to remind people of the core similarity
that lies at the heart of all religions - the Golden Rule. Karen won the TED
Prize in 2008 and the Charter for Compassion was her wish. Global
participation in an open writing process was the critical starting point for
the creation of the Charter for Compassion was launched in the fall of 2008
to allow people of all nations, all backgrounds, and all faiths to
contribute. People from all over the world have contributed to this Charter;
it transcends religious, ideological and national difference; it has been
composed by leading thinkers from many traditions with passion, insight,
intellectual conviction and hope.

A Project of the TED Prize (

TED is a non profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. TED stands for
Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is an annual conference which brings
together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged
to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). makes the best talks
and performances, the ideas worth spreading, from TED available to the
public, for free.

The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED Community's exceptional
array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to three exceptional
individuals who each receive US$100,000 and, much more important, the
granting of "One Wish to Change the World."

Made Possible by the Fetzer Institute (

A private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Fetzer
Institute engages with people and projects around the world to help bring the
power of love, forgiveness and compassion to the center of individual and
community life. Founded by broadcast pioneer John E. Fetzer, the institute
carries out its mission in a number of ways: by supporting scientific
research to understand how to increase the human capacity for love and
forgiveness; by convening conversations that help community leaders explore
the practical application of love and compassion in their work; and by
sharing compelling stories of love and forgiveness at work in the world.
While the Fetzer Institute is not a religious organization, it honors and
learns from a variety of spiritual traditions.

    For More Information Contact

    Colleen McCarthy, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
    TEL: +1-212-880-5280

Colleen McCarthy, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, +1-212-880-5280, colleen.mccarthy at

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