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TED’s Compassion Initiative

posted by Nell Minow

In 2008, TED gave its annual award to Karen Armstrong, author of more than 20 books about what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common and their effect on world events. She is a former nun who now calls herself a “freelance monotheist.” Receipients of this prize receive $100,000 and “One Wish to Change the World.” Armstrong’s wish was for a compassion initiative:

“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.”

The Charter for Compassion will be released later this month. But TED has posted six short videos of religious leaders with their thoughts on compassion and how to make the values of compassion a vital form of meaningful engagement. Watch these two and then go to the TED website to see the rest.



  • jestrfyl

    Ms Armstrong’s books have a significant amount of shelf space inmy office. I refer to her many works often. She deserves this award.
    “Compassion” is an interesting word. It means to a struggle with or along side. Her idea is fascinating because it is not as much a search for solutions as it is a search for partners in a struggle. I prefer to think that she is not trying to fix everything as much as she is seeking to put people together who have overlapping struggles, in the hope of weaving a community working together in many differnt but complementary ways. In that the name Isra-el means struggles with or wrestles with God, there is that sense of a common faith strugle with different religious orientations. What an amazing idea! I hope it takes.

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