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.