Sharing Resources

I’ve been heartened at the feedback I’ve received in sharing this study of compassion a little more widely.

Some of that sharing has occurred through posting the links to videos, podcasts or articles I’m reading to the Year of Compassion Facebook page, as a signpost for what I’m learning about. Some of that feedback has occured becase I’ve linked directly to this blog where I’m trying to synthesise what I’m learning and reflect on things more deeply.

As I’ve started to build the material I’m considering, I felt it would be good to keep track of those resources. They link to each other in many ways – the science of the mind to mediation to practices for compassion; vulnerability to shame to ways in which we develop empathy. I’ve now added a Resources Page (available from top menu of this blog) to share the materials I’m drawing on, hoping this also provides a useful reference for you.

[Day: 30: Reflection, Research]

Note: If it’s useful, I’ve also compiled the list of books I’m referring to on Goodreads.


RadioLab on Morality

Through the Charter for Compassion website, I found a link to a RadioLab podcast on Morality (Season 2 Episode 3).


RadioLab explores responses to the “railway track” ethical dilemma

In exploring responses to ethical dilemmas, the episode looks at whether our sense of right and wrong comes from deeply ingrained instincts within the brain, or develops over time. It touches on issues of shame and guilt and wonders how these experiences shape our response to empathy.

There is so much in this hour that links back to the other things I’ve been researching that it’s taken me days to write nothing. Instead I offer this as an update and a bookmark for me to return to in exploring brain science, parenting, shame and ethical dilemmas further.

[Days 14-19: Listening to this, Researching more]

(Image Credit: National Library of Ireland on The CommonsThis photo was taken on January 21, 1959 in Windy Arbour, Dublin, DUB, IE.)

Hope through Agency

Following on from teaching foresight last week, I have been turning over not just scenario thinking, but also the idea of hope in my mind.

Futurist Rowena Morrow has written a post on Hope and what it means (What the world needs now is…HOPE). She draws on the work of Prof CR Synder to stress the contributions of pathways, goals and agency. I’ve been thinking about agency (the ability to take action) in line with the part of compassion that stresses the need to first feel compassion and love for ourselves. “Love thy neighbour as thyself” as emphasised in one of the chapters of Karen Armstrong’s book (Twelve Steps to Compassion).

To proceed compassionately, I must first back my capacity for kindness. To proceed with hope I must first back my capacity to act.

Self as a starting place.

[Day 11, 12, 13: Research]

The Charter for Compassion

In exploring the first chapter of Karen Armstong’s book, “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life”, her advice is to register with The Charter for Compassion. The Charter is written in full in more than 30 languages, or you can view it here:


You can add your name to the Charter to amplify the call for a more compassionate world, and also to receive updates about the Charter’s progress in the world. I didn’t at the time, wanting to read more about the process, to think for myself, and to reflect on the way I instinctually responded to the words. My reaction to “morality and religion”, “ancient principles”, “luminous, dynamic” wasn’t necessarily positive and I’d not given much thought to formal religion since rejecting it as part of my identity in secondary school. And then it was forgotten. But I’ve been reading and re-reading this Charter or several hours now and there’s nothing I can’t wish for.

Is it too late? Signed.

[Day 5: Action]

Steps to Compassion

“Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems.” [Charter for Compassion website]

Armstrong, K "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life"

As a bonus of attending TEDActive in 2011, I was enrolled in the TED Book Club. One of the first books I received (from memory) was Karen Armstrong’s “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life“. I’ve started reading it before, started and stopped at the history of the formulation of the Golden Rule*, page 9 of the Preface.  It depresses me to think I hadn’t even made it to Step 1 – Learn About Compassion.

Armstrong was the recipient of the TED Prize in 2008, and this books explains the creation of The Charter for Compassion and how to turn it into personal action. Developing the Charter included seeking contributions from people across the world, from perspectives both religious and secular, in order to develop a charter to restore compassionate thinking and action.

I have started reading it again, and it’s helping to articulate my questions: is compassion innate or constructed, how do different religions inform and shape views of compassion and how might I use her writing as a blueprint for my own actions.

[Day 4: Researching the foundations]

*Golden Rule: Treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Or as listed within the scriptures of many religions.