Charter for Compassion Launch in Washington, D.C.
by Randa Kuziez
Last week, around two hundred people in the D.C. area gathered to hear the reading of the words of the Charter for Compassion at the Washington D.C. launch, one of many locations in which the Charter launched around the world. The words in the Charter reflect an image of how the world can be if it is activated by compassion and the Golden rule.
Karen Armstrong, religious historian and author of “The Case for God” among other books on faith traditions, was recently awarded a TED prize. TED prize winners are granted “One Wish to Change the World,” and hers was to call on leaders from various faith traditions to join together to create of the Charter of Compassion.
“Unless we apply the golden rule globally, we won’t have a viable world to hand on,” said Armstrong. She focused on the importance of a spiritual globalization, the idea of, “dethroning ourselves from the centre 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.”
Oftentimes, religion is seen as part of the problem, but the goal of the Charter is to empower individuals and create a cooperative effort to show that we can work together for a just and compassionate world. It was a beautiful reminder, one that each of our faith traditions calls us to. Armstrong’s initial idea was welcomed with open arms: there are currently over 125 partners to the Charter and 17,940 signatures, and it is growing. If groups unite on the Charter through practical action, an immense impact can be made to address issues of global injustice and poverty, amongst other issues where collaboration is key.
We have seen the impact that multi-faith collaboration has had with the fight against malaria in endemic countries as well as with organizations such as the Faiths Act Fellows program I am currently participating in, the Bite the Bug Campaign, and many others outlined in the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs project titled “Malaria: Scoping New Partnerships.” (http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/publications/870)
Following a reading of the Charter and an introduction by Armstrong, the new documentary “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” was shown. “Inside Islam” explores gathered opinions of Muslims around the world as in the first major and most extensive poll conducted on Muslims by Gallup. (http://upf.tv/upf06/Projects/InsideIslamWhataBillionMuslimsReallyThink/tabid/319/Default.aspx)
The event closed with a reminder from the Quran, “O humanity, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Aware.”
Invite your friends, family, and organizations to join the world in this effort.
Please watch a video from the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaDqoaScvMw&feature=player_embedded
For more information and to watch the Charter itself, visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org
To see Karen Armstrong’s TED speech, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/10/armstrong.tutu.charter.compassion/index.html
The American Muslim