The Charter for Compassion

Goodlifer: The Charter for Compassion

I have always believed that just being nice gets you places way better than sharp elbows and tongues do. Niceness has long been considered a quality too soft for our dog-eat-dog society, but it’s making a comeback. Maybe it is the realization that inconsiderate ruthlessness was one of the main contributors to the current economic chaos, or simply a return to values — what matters most in our lives.

The Charter for Compassion is the result of Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish, awarded annually to three exceptional individuals who each receive $100,000 and, much more important, the granting of “One Wish to Change the World.” Armstrong is a former Roman Catholic nun who left a British convent to pursue a degree in modern literature at Oxford. A true renaissance woman and one of the most provocative thought leaders of our time, she has written more than 20 books around the ideas of what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and around their effect on world events, including A History of God and Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World, The Case for God and The Bible: A Biography. Armstrong calls herself a freelance monotheist, and her meditations on personal faith and religion go way beyond convention and often spark lively discussions.

I don’t consider myself a religious person at all, but do subscribe to the principle of compassion which lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions. To me, this is more a faith in self and the world around us, and goes beyond practiced religion. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our earthly cohabitants, to remove ourselves from the center of our world and instead put another there, recognizing the value of every single human being and in turn treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Compassion across nationality, ethnicity and religion, as depicted by Norman Rockwell.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Compassion across nationality, ethnicity and religion, as depicted by Norman Rockwell.

“We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries.” We are constantly discovering just how interconnected all things are, and compassion is essential to sustaining human relationships (with each other and the world). Compassion may be the path to enlightenment, but it is also indispensable to the creation of a just and sustainable economy and a peaceful global community. Both desperately needed in the world right now.

The site features user-generated acts of compassion, meant to inspire and empower. Charter member Casson Rosenblatt writes: “Today someone gave me a cab because I was in a rush and had no umbrella. To see someone else be so generous and compassionate to me made my day.”

Sometimes it’s those small things that have the largest impact, and what do you have to loose? When was the last time holding a door open or letting someone have your seat on the subway make you feel worse? Putting a smile in someone’s heart is contagious (way more so than swine flu). Adopt the charter as your own, and make a lifelong commitment to live with compassion. You may just be amazed how it changes things.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Wonderful post Johanna, couldn’t agree more with the sentiments expressed.

  2. Love this J- fantastic piece and reflection!

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