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mattbrowne's avatar

Would you support the following 'Charter for Compassion' ?

Asked by mattbrowne (31456 points ) February 28th, 2011

“The Charter is based on a principle embraced by every faith, and by every moral code. It is often referred to as The Golden Rule. The Council of Conscience, a multi-faith, multi-national group of religious thinkers and leaders, reviewed and sorted through all the world’s contributions to craft the final Charter. They continue to be vigorous supporters and advocates for the Charter and its message. Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made her wish to have the TED community help her create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion. TED is a global set of conferences, formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading”.

The Charter for Compassion is a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world.

http://charterforcompassion.org/site/

CHARTER FOR COMPASSION

“The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women

- to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion

- to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate

- to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures

- to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity

- to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

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. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”

People around the world are acting compassionately, yet separately.

What are your views on this Charter? Would you consider supporting it? How much can it really accomplish (keeping in mind that TED helps promoting it)?

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22 Answers

markferg's avatar

No. It promotes religion and that is not something that I can accept. God, Supreme Being, Allah, Buddha, whatever, you can stick up your holy arse, Why? Because you don’t exist. There are followers that will disagree but the main man never makes an appearance. Why? Ask Santa Claus. He knows.

thorninmud's avatar

Yes, I had already signed on. I have a great deal of admiration for Karen Armstrong. She wrote a book recently called 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life that supplements her work with the Charter by laying out a practical approach to actualizing compassion at the personal level.

I especially appreciated the point she makes that there is a time-honored precedent for refusing any interpretation of scripture or doctrine that conflicts with compassion. That really seems to have been Jesus’ message after all: compassion is the lens through which scripture must be read. That was how he seems to have treated scripture.

It is a bit depressing that relatively few have signed onto the Charter thus far.

thorninmud's avatar

@markferg It really isn’t a promotion of religion. Armstrong is a religious historian, but what motivated Armstrong to undertake the Charter was her disgust at how the world’s religions have largely lost sight of compassion as the guiding principle and become, in many cases, forces in opposition to compassion. So it isn’t a call to religion at all, but it does call for those who are religious to restore the principle of compassion to its proper place. But if you read it carefully you’ll see that, although religion is mentioned, the intent of the document is much broader and applies to the secular just as well.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I appreciate and support the concept, of course, but I’d be afraid of it becoming something in the nature of regulating behavior. It starts with a sensible, loving idea and goes…where? On the face of it, it’s a wonderful idea.

markferg's avatar

@thorninmud No, I will not accept an alternative ‘ology’ It is always evil. Bad people!! – YMMV.

mattbrowne's avatar

@thorninmud – I am reading 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life right now. It’s a great book. I share your view that her effort has little to do with promoting faith and religion. There is no hidden religious agenda. And TED is about promoting ideas, creativity and innovation. It’s not about religion or atheism. It’s about open mindedness and the future. And I’d argue the TED conference is about compassion as well. During my commutes I have listened to dozens of TED podcasts. They are all top notch. Many brilliant scientists participating. I think TED picked Karen Armstrong for a reason.

Let’s not turn this into a religious debate (I wouldn’t participate) of which we have seen so many on Fluther. Let’s talk about the content and the goals of the Charter. The ideas in it. Like the determination to transcend selfishness. And breaking down boundaries.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JilltheTooth – Which part hints at regulating behavior?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@mattbrowne : No parts hint at it, I was projecting. Promoted and adopted as a concept I wholly support, but I worry about it becoming a “must”, and interpreted as an absolute by the powers that be, whether religious leaders or governments, and the inevitable passing of “doctrines” and “behavior laws” and such. Mostly I’m just cranky cuz it’s pouring down rain and my joints hurt. I know that my response is a gross over-reaction, and like I said, I do support the concept.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JilltheTooth – The Charter uses the verb ‘to call upon’, right? It doesn’t say ‘you must ensure’ or ‘you must restore’. I don’t think the Charter uses the language of doctrines and dogmas. At least I don’t have this impression.

markferg's avatar

@JilltheTooth – conceptualization. That’s an evil sounding word.Did you use it? I’m saying yes. Or, no, depending on whether you did say it, or not. Anyway, it detracts from your reply. Making me the winner, or not as the case may be. Hooray, I now run Ireland, Eire as you probably called it. Anyway, it’s mine now and u can’t do anything about it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@mattbrowne : Like I said, no parts hint at it; like I also said, my response was a projection and a gross over-reaction.
@markferg ; I have no idea what you mean, but it’s kinda cute the way you say it.

Some explanation for my reaction to this Q: I have recently reread Sheri Tepper’s books The Gate To Women’s Country and Raising The Stones. They both deal with the idea of a certain amount of free will being subjugated for the ultimate betterment of humankind. In both of these books, the betterment part is quite real and in no way smacks of oppression, but the subjugation of free will part is kind of disturbing to me

iamthemob's avatar

Any move that is meant to expand tolerance and compassion is something that I support. I will, however, say that it is more important that religious leaders clearly put this into action rather than those following – or even those not following – any particular religion.

mattbrowne's avatar

Signing it means committing oneself to putting this into action.

ETpro's avatar

Yes! Thanks for posting the link to the organization.

iamthemob's avatar

“Committing oneself to putting this into action,” however, is not putting this into action. I’m going to wait to see how many people treat this with the severity it deserves… and how many treat it merely with the commitment of a “New Years Resolution” – made every year and broken that same, and remade.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob I thought of that too while reading it. Anyone here who knows me knows I can argue passionately for things I believe are important political policies and cultural values. I was convicted as I read it that while I know and profess the Golden Rule as words fit to live by, I have often fallen far short of that mark myself, and readers here know it. This isn’t going to be easy.

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro – Personally, I think that anyone who professes to have completely lived by the golden rule either (1) is lying, (2) does’t remember everything, (3) hasn’t really read the golden rule, or some combination.

mattbrowne's avatar

@iamthemob -

Well, I think that anyone who professes to completely honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, either (1) is lying, (2) doesn’t remember everything, (3) hasn’t really read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Does this mean having a Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more or less pointless? Just a pipe dream? A great delusion?

Why do you think TED supported the effort thinking the Charter is an idea worth spreading?

iamthemob's avatar

@mattbrowne – Not at all. However, simply because the standard is an ideal doesn’t mean that it’s pointless. We should recognize that it is an ideal, nonetheless – and simply failing to live up to it doesn’t mean you’re not really trying.

But, there’s really trying – and then there’s the appearance of trying.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob I am well aware of how difficult it is to to actually live up the the Charter for Compassion. But that’s no excuse for making no effort to do so if you feel it is the right thing to do, and I do feel convicted that it is. The Charter is the application of the simple Golden Rule first articulated by Babylonians in the Hammurabi Code in 3791 years ago—though it was likely around before then. So memorizing that simple ethic, which is the underpinning of modern law and ethics, really is all that is necessary to know how to apply the Charter. It’s actually doing it that is difficult.

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro – I totally agree. I do think that someone who says that they’ve always followed the golden rule probably isn’t really trying to.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob That, or they aren’t very aware of what they are doing and how it impacts others.

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