New Charter for Compassion Website Launches

Website Calls on the World to Participate in the Launch and Spread of the Charter on November 12, 2009

Sep 25, 2009, 08:00 ET from TED from ,Fetzer Institute

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, as part of the World Peace Through Personal Peace Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, TED Prize winner Karen Armstrong will announce the official launch of the Charter for Compassion website, The Charter for Compassion, sponsored by the Fetzer Institute, is a single document crafted by people from all walks of life, nationalities, beliefs and backgrounds with the intent to unify, inspire and bring compassion back into the hearts of society.

Using the website as a launchpad and the future venue for the world to actively participate in the launch of the Charter for Compassion document, Armstrong and her partners will call on the world to creative, practical and sustained action to meet the political, moral, religious, social and cultural problems of our time. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) will live-stream the Sunday afternoon (1:30 PM PDT) discussion on compassion, free to the public, at

Inspired individuals, humanitarian groups, community groups and houses of worship will find toolkits on the Website to help them participate in events to celebrate the Charter for Compassion, host their own events, use the Charter in their work and learn to speak on compassion to their associates and congregants leading up to and after the unveiling of the final text on November 12, 2009. In the following week, individuals, organizations and houses of worship will host events, from large concerts to small lectures, to celebrate the launch. Religious leaders will also find sermons and talking points to help them make compassion the subject of their religious services the weekend following November 12.

Across the world, more than 45 partner organizations are planning events and activities around the November 12 timeframe to demonstrate their commitment to spreading the message of the Charter for Compassion. In North America, communities, interfaith groups and religious groups are engaging their members by hosting live and online discussion groups, workshops, conferences, driving translations of materials into languages other than English and creating videos of stories of Compassion. North American partners include:

  • ASMA
  • TED
  • Soliya
  • Union Theological Seminary
  • Muslim Presence
  • Cordoba Initiative
  • Interfaith Center of New York
  • Interfaith Youth Core
  • Tanenbaum Center
  • Temple of Understanding
  • UN Alliance of Civilizations
  • United Religious Initiative
  • 20,000 Dialogues
  • Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (CHIME)
  • Cross Currents
  • Jewish - Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
  • North America Interfaith Network
  • Project Interfaith
  • Scarboro Missions
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • Yasodhara Ashram Society

Compassion, as Armstrong explains, is not the feeling of good will or pity. Instead, she says, "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 website will explain the principles that have guided the Charter's creation and its writing, and will offer website visitors ways to put those principles into action by hosting events organized around the Charter's official launch on Nov. 12. Website visitors are encouraged to sign up to host events and encourage their friends, colleagues and community leaders to do the same.

A 2008 winner of the TED Prize, Armstrong has been working to establish 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. Each faith has its version of the Golden Rule, she explains -- always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself -- and those "others" include all the peoples of the Earth, not just our own familiar community, religious congregation or group of friends.

During the Charter-writing period, people of all faiths, from around the world, contributed their ideas, suggestions and stories. A Council of Conscience, made up of fourteen renowned religious thinkers and leaders, then wrote the final version. The Charter for Compassion will officially launch on Nov. 12, 2009.

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 Fall 2008 to allow people of all nations, all backgrounds, and all faiths to contribute to the Charter. The submissions shared began a conversation that will continue as the Charter is finalized and launched: 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.


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 $100,000 and, much more important, the granting of "One Wish to Change the World."


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 individual and community life. The Institute's work rests on a deep conviction that each of us has power to transform the world by strengthening the connection between the inner life of mind and spirit with the outer life of service and action. While the Fetzer Institute is not a religious organization, it honors and learns from a variety of spiritual traditions.

SOURCE TED; Fetzer Institute