Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish: for help creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion:
“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers...and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.”
The TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual, who receives a money prize, and, much more importantly, "One Wish to Change the World." Designed to leverage the TED community's exceptional array of talent and resources, the prize leads to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.
Seeds of Compassion was an unprecedented gathering to engage the hearts and minds of our community by highlighting the vision, science, and programs of early social, emotional, and cognitive learning. Anchored by the deep wisdom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this community–focused event celebrated and explored the relationships, programs and tools that nurture and empower children, families and communities to be compassionate members of society. Each of the five days provided parents, educators, business and community leaders with an opportunity to better understand the real benefits of compassion, and concrete steps on how to bring compassion into their lives.
The Charter began building a partnership of individuals and organizations around the world working to bring compassion to life. Over the first few years, the number of Partner organizations globally grew slowly, and then began to explode in 2013. By the summer of 2014, over 400 organizations have signed on as Partners for the Charter.
The Charter for Compassion website launched and people of all faiths, all nations and all backgrounds were invited to submit their own words to the Charter. The Charter for Compassion is a product of its time, for its time. Using a unique web-based decision-making platform, thousands of people from more than 100 countries added their voice to the writing of the Charter. Over a six-week period, thousands of submissions were entered which were then read and commented upon by over 150,000 visitors. These contributions were then reviewed by the Council of Conscience and incorporated into the final document.
The Council of Conscience meet in Vevey, Switzerland, to take the words of the world and craft the Charter for Compassion. The Council, a multi-faith, multi-national group of religious thinkers and leaders, reviewed and sorted through contributions from across the globe to craft the final Charter. They continue to be vigorous supporters and advocates for the Charter and its message.
"Compassion is not hereditable. It can and therefore must be taught. The teaching of compassion, the exercise of the soul, will open the heart. And then nothing will be impossible." ~ Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp
"Compassion is a organizing principle [for] business leaders, government leaders, arts and culture, humanitarians – you need a working principle, especially when the world is colliding into each other every day" ~ Salman Ahmad
"In a world where force is too often the response to differences of opinion, culture and ideas of the divine, compassion is its one universal antidote. This Charter gives spiritual voices the opportunity to unite in this most authentic cry for peace." ~ Sister Joan Chittister
Compassionate Action Network (CAN) was inspired by the Seeds of Compassion and then launched in Seattle to be a "network of networks." The organization proclaimed its desire to unite "people across our community—parents, children, youth, teachers, clergy, activists, politicians, philanthropists and leaders at all levels and in every sphere—to create a more compassionate world."
CAN's intention, expressed in its founding document, was to create "an association of like-minded programs, projects and organizations that collectively represent the power of thousands of relationships." CAN went on to be the home for the Charter for Compassion from the summer of 2012 through December of 2013, and provided a wealth of startup assistance to the Charter, including staff, fundraising, resource development, and strategic planning.
More than 75 events took place around the globe to launch the Charter for Compassion on November 12. Charter for Compassion partners — groups and individuals around the world who are deeply committed to the Charter’s ideals — work tirelessly in the name compassion and interfaith dialogue, bringing the Charter to life in their communities. The Charter team promotes their important work.
The City of Seattle became the first city to formally sign the Charter for Compassion, thus launching an international campaign for communities around the world to endorse the Charter. Cities joining the movement pledged to work consciously to bring the principles and practice of compassion to life in cities everywhere. CAN's Jon Ramer was initiator of the campaign as well as founder of Compassionate Seattle.
Charter for Compassion recognized in Australian Parliament
The ceremony was the first time that the Charter had been recognised in a Parliament anywhere in the world and included representatives from the Government and Opposition, Indigenous community, diplomats, NGOs, religious and youth leaders. The Canberra Jewish community was represented by Bill Arnold and Rabbi Dan Avital.
The Charter for Compassion is a document and worldwide movement that supports the golden rule “To treat others like you would wish to be treated.” Advocates of the Charter include HH The Dalai Lama and Richard Branson. The Charter is a TED.com initiative, inspired by world renowned religious historian, Karen Armstrong and the result of contributions from people from over 100 countries.
Danielle Lauren, the host of the ceremony and Australian Ambassador for the Charter, said “This event was a wonderful opportunity to spread the principle of compassion to our leaders and help make Australia a more compassionate society for all.” Danielle gave a call to action for her campaign to get 100,000 handwritten signatures in Australia to support the Charter.
Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Senator Ursula Stephens, said “For those of us who work in this place, the Charter reminds us that it is not just the legislated laws that shape a nation, but the way in which we behave to each other.” Senator Stephens also read out a letter from the Prime Minister congratulating Danielle on her work with the Charter and promoting compassion in Australia.
Shadow Minister for Ageing, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, addressed the crowd and sent support from the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.
The ceremony also included a special video message from Karen Armstrong, a Traditional Aboriginal Welcome to Country from Ngunnawal Elder, Agnes Shea and a meditation session with the Venerable Bhante Sujato from the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils. In picture: Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Danielle Lauren and Senator Ursula Stephens.
In celebration of the Charter's first year actor, Rainn Wilson and the team create a video history of the movement and its accomplishments. Notable moments include: Seattle becomes the world's first compassionate city as part of an international campaign. Medical student Saalman Sana unveils the Compassion for Care Charter at TEDxMaastrict . Groups in Canada and Holland create and affirm the Children's Charter.
The Charter in 2012. “As part of the city-wide 12 Days of Compassion with Karen Armstrong program, Vancouver announces its campaign to become a compassionate city, and Karen Armstrong unveils a new Charter website and international initiative and gives an update on the state of the Charter, including news about vibrant Charter movements in Pakistan, Canada, Jordan, Holland, the United Kingdom and Louisville, Ky.”
January, 2014 - Founding of the Charter for Compassion organization & formation of Global Compassion Council
Almost six years after Karen Armstrong was awarded the TED Prize, the Charter for Compassion has grown into a truly global movement. Thanks to the efforts of a broad range of people in all walks of life and on every continent, compassion has touched the lives of thousands of people in countries, cities, schools, business and other organizations, and faith communities around the world. To reflect this growing worldwide presence, a confluence of leaders in the movement -- the Global Compassion Council -- formed the Charter for Compassion organization.