Compassion: A Dynamic New Movement?

Seattle, Washington, November 12, 2009 – They came from all over Seattle to witness and affirm the global aim and reach of one woman’s heartfelt wish to reinvigorate the Golden Rule. One hundred people from local religious and peace organizations gathered at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Seattle for the unveiling of the Charter for Compassion. This one page document encourages people of all faiths and nations to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion.

The charter is the “wish” of Karen Armstrong, one of the most provocative, original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world. Armstrong won the 2008 TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Award which honors “ideas worth spreading.” Armstrong was awarded $100,000 and granted a “wish to change the world.” Her wish was for help in “creating, launching and propagating” an international Charter for Compassion to help restore the Golden Rule as central to religious practice and daily life throughout the world. The principle of Golden Rule is embraced by every faith and by every moral code, religious or otherwise and suggests that we act toward others as we would want them to act toward us.

In response to a polarized, turbulent world which so often stresses differences, the Charter for Compassion is bringing together voices from all cultures, spiritual and faith communities to remind the world that we all share the same core principle of compassion.

More than 150,000 people of all faiths and backgrounds from over 180 countries contributed to the Charter for Compassion. The document was finalized in February 2009 by the Council of Conscience, made up of well recognized, multi-faith religious leaders and thinkers from around the globe.

The Charter states that “compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries” and that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate.” The Charter further notes the importance of teaching youth accurate information about other traditions, faiths and cultures and states that compassion is “indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”

To date, the Charter for Compassion has been affirmed by over 9,000 people including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and H.M Queen Noor of Jordan. To read and affirm the Charter and see the video of a reading of the Charter, please go to

Attendees at last night’s launch in Seattle were asked to practice compassion during a fifty day period following the launch to help create a more compassionate world. Events include the 23rd annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, held on November 22nd (2:30 – 4:00p.m. at St. Patrick, 2702 Broadway E.). The fifty days of compassion will culminate with a walking meditation at Greenlake, in Seattle, on New Year’s Eve. Scheduled events are listed at

Partners for the unveiling event at Saint Patrick Catholic Church included: Northwest Interfaith Community Outreach (NICO), and the following organizations that are formal partners for the Charter for Compassion: The Compassionate Listening Project and the Seattle Center for Peace.

About the Ted Award
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an academic organization owned by Sapling Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation. TED was founded in 1984 and is known for its annual conference devoted to “ideas worth spreading” and its lectures, known as TED Talks, which originally focused on technology, entertainment and design, but have now expanded in scope to a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, education, culture, business, global issues, technology and development. The TED Award is given to three recipients annually. Past recipients include former President, Bill Clinton and entertainer and humanitarian, Bono.

About CAN
The Compassionate Action Network (CAN) is a network of self-organizing groups who share a common vision for a compassionate world. CAN grew out of the April 2008, Seeds of Compassion event in Seattle, which welcomed His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and other global luminaries. The purpose of the event was to nurture kindness and compassion in children and all those who touch their lives. For more information about the Compassionate Action Network, please go to
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Thank you to all who joined us to make the Seattle Launch of Charter for Compassion a success!

Here are a couple more thoughtful blogposts on the November 12th Launch and the Charter for Compassion.
Lora-Ellen McKinney
Robert V. Taylor

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