The Charter

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 centre of our world and put another there, and to honour 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 centre 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 indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Affirm the Charter for Compassion

There is no cost to affirm the Charter. Your signature is a public commitment to the principles expressed in this historic document.

History of the Charter for Compassion

Karen Armstrong a world-renowned writer and religious historian won the global TED prize and made a wish to create, launch and propagate a Charter for Compassion. The Charter was crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers and was based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect that follows the Golden rule of ‘do to others as you would have them do unto you.’

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 Council of Conscience meet in Switzerland, to take the words of the world and craft the Charter for Compassion. The Council, a multi- faith, multi-national group of thinkers and leaders, reviewed and sorted through contributions from across the globe to create the final Charter. They continue to be rigorous supporters and advocates for the Charter and its message.

Almost six years after Karen Armstrong was awarded the TED Prize, the Charter for Compassion has grown into a truly global movement that operates ‘a bottom up and top down’, community-engaged process. And to reflect this growing worldwide presence, in 2014 a confluence of leaders in the movement — the Global Compassion Council – officially launched the Charter for Compassion organization.

More than 350 cities have become Compassionate Cities and the Charter continues to grow in its influence across the world.

History of the Charter in Australia

Australia’s existing history of involvement with the Charter for Compassion comprises:

The Australian Parliament becomes the first parliament in the world to sign the Charter. Dr Ursula Stephens, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, and Danielle Lauren held a historic recognition ceremony of the Charter for Compassion at Parliament House, which included representatives from the Government and Opposition, Indigenous community, diplomats, NGOs, religious and youth leaders.

Prof Diana Slade plays a key role in Australia with The Institute for Communication in Health Care (ICH) which is an international, interdisciplinary organisation, established to promote health communication research and the application of research findings to healthcare practice and education. Based at one of Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, the Australian National University, the Institute addresses mounting evidence that ineffective communication at all levels of the healthcare system leads to poor patient outcomes, including serious illness and death, and contributes to clinician dissatisfaction has received international support, with over 50 members from more than 10 countries around the world.

Dr Lynne Reeder and Jafer Murat establish the Australian Organising group to promote a greater awareness of the Charter to Australians. A designated webpage was created to capture the activities already underway across Australia. These existing activities included Compassionate Mind Australia and the Compassion Symposium held annually at the University of Queensland.

US study tour undertaken by two of the Organising group members, Lynne Reeder – National Facilitator of the Australian Compassion Council and Terry Ayling – Facilitator of Compassionate Gold Coast met with global members of the Charter, including Karen Armstrong, Marilyn Turkovich, Sande Hart, Jon Ramer, Greg Fisher and Tom Williams among others to gather detailed information on Charter activities and the implications for an Australian context.