In November 2007, religious historian Karen Armstrong won the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) award because of her many contributions that have made a profound difference in the world. Each recipient is given $100,000 and a wish for a better world.
So, three months later, when Armstrong accepted the award, she asked TED to help her create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion that would be designed by prominent thinkers, philosophers, and leaders from a variety of different faiths. Its mission? To restore compassion to the heart of religious and moral life at a time of such flagrant violence and terrorism in the name of race and religion.
As I read through excerpts of Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, and reviewed her interview earlier this year with NPR’s Neal Conan, I was inspired by Armstrong’s ferocious passion and single-mindedness with which she is pursuing this dream of hers. Her charter embraces five key principles, the final being “to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings — even those regarded as enemies.”
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