Historic Moments for the Charter

February 28, 2008 - Karen Armstrong wins TED Prize, offers wish for "Charter for Compassion"

Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish: for help creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion:

“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 TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual, who receives $100,000 and, much more importantly, "One Wish to Change the World." Designed to leverage the TED community's exceptional array of talent and resources, the prize leads to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.

April 11-15, 2008 - Seeds of Compassion gathering in Seattle, USA

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.

September 1, 2008 - Partners sign on for Charter initiative

The Charter began building a partnership of individuals and organizations around the world working to bring compassion to life. Over the first few years, the number of Partner organizations globally grew slowly, and then began to explode in 2013. By the fall of 2013, over 400 organizations had signed on as Partners for the Charter.

November 12, 2008 - Charter web site launched

The Charter for Compassion website launched and people of all faiths, all nations and all backgrounds were invited to submit their own words to the Charter. The Charter for Compassion is a product of its time, for its time. Using a unique web-based decision-making platform, thousands of people from more than 100 countries added their voice to the writing of the Charter. Over a six-week period, thousands of submissions were entered which were then read and commented upon by over 150,000 visitors. These contributions were then reviewed by the Council of Conscience and incorporated into the final document.

February 24, 2009 - Council of Conscience meets to craft Charter

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

"Compassion is not hereditable. It can and therefore must be taught. The teaching of compassion, the exercise of the soul, will open the heart. And then nothing will be impossible." ~ Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp

"Compassion is a organizing principle [for] business leaders, government leaders, arts and culture, humanitarians – you need a working principle, especially when the world is colliding into each other every day" ~ Salman Ahmad

"In a world where force is too often the response to differences of opinion, culture and ideas of the divine, compassion is its one universal antidote. This Charter gives spiritual voices the opportunity to unite in this most authentic cry for peace." ~ Sister Joan Chittister

May 4th, 2009 - Compassionate Action Network founded

Compassionate Action Network (CAN) was inspired by the Seeds of Compassion and then launched in Seattle to be a "network of networks." The organization proclaimed its desire to unite "people across our community—parents, children, youth, teachers, clergy, activists, politicians, philanthropists and leaders at all levels and in every sphere—to create a more compassionate world."

CAN's intention, expressed in its founding document, was to create "an association of like-minded programs, projects and organizations that collectively represent the power of thousands of relationships."

November 12, 2009 - Charter formally launched

More than 75 events took place around the globe to launch the Charter for Compassion on November 12.  Charter for Compassion partners — groups and individuals around the world who are deeply committed to the Charter’s ideals — work tirelessly in the name compassion and interfaith dialogue, bringing the Charter to life in their communities. The Charter team promotes their important work.

April 24, 2010 - Cities Campaign initiated by Compassionate Action Network

The City of Seattle became the first city to formally sign the Charter for Compassion, thus launching an international campaign for communities around the world to endorse the Charter. Cities joining the movement pledged to work consciously to bring the principles and practice of compassion to life in cities everywhere. CAN's Jon Ramer was initiator of the campaign as well as founder of Compassionate Seattle.

November 12, 2010 - Charter celebrates first year

In celebration of the Charter's first year actor, Rainn Wilson and the team create a video history of the movement and its accomplishments. Notable moments include: Seattle becomes the world's first compassionate city as part of an international campaign. Medical student Saalman Sana unveils the Compassion for Care Charter at TEDxMaastrict . Groups in Canada and Holland create and affirm the Children's Charter.

June, 2011 - Charter for Compassion Pakistan is Formed

In February 2011, the Charter was launched in Pakistan with a nation-wide lecture tour, and publication of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by religious historian and author Karen Armstrong, author of over 20 books on religion, including the much celebrated biography of the Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h) and ‘Letter to Pakistan’ which is a version of the ‘Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life’ book written from the Islamic perspective, and translated in Urdu. In this book, Karen encourages readers to go back to their own faith traditions and study the key terms in the Qu’ran. For example, “… kindness, patience and forbearance were absolutely central to the early Muslim vision. A crucial term is hilm, which the Qur’an regards as the virtue that Muslims should practice above all others. Men and women of hilm would control their anger and remain calm, even in the most difficult circumstances; they were slow to retaliate; instead of hitting back, they were content to leave revenge to Allah… (e.g., 14.47; 39:37; 15:79; 30:47; 44:16).” 15

The book also featured four essays by Pakistani Islamic scholars on the theme of Compassion in Islam, highlighting the compassionate message of Islam.

“…It is by which every significant act in Islam is consecrated, and with which every chapter of the Qur’an begins,the formula known as the basmala: “In the Name of God, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful” (bismi ‘Llāhi r-Rahmāni r-Rahīim)… 

Since becoming a registered non-profit in June 2011, Charter for Compassion Pakistan has focused primarily on designing projects in media, education, and business to increase compassion awareness and action in our communities.

March 22, 2012 - Karen Armstrong reports on state of the Charter in Vancouver BC

The Charter in 2012. “As part of the city-wide 12 Days of Compassion with Karen Armstrong program, Vancouver announces its campaign to become a compassionate city, and Karen Armstrong unveils a new Charter website and international initiative and gives an update on the state of the Charter, including news about vibrant Charter movements in Pakistan, Canada, Jordan, Holland, the United Kingdom and Louisville, Ky.”

January, 2014 - Founding of Charter for Compassion International & formation of Global Compassion Council

Almost six years after Karen Armstrong was awarded the TED Prize, the Charter for Compassion has grown into a truly global movement.  Thanks to the efforts of a broad range of people in all walks of life and on every continent, compassion has touched the lives of thousands of people in countries, cities, schools, business and other organizations, and faith communities around the world.  To reflect this growing worldwide presence, a confluence of leaders in the movement -- the Global Compassion Council -- formed Charter for Compassion International (CFCI).