Make a wishIf you had a wish, what would it be? Would you direct it inwardly or towards others? Would it be personal or would it be communal? Would it be larger? Would your wish be transformative, transactional or fanciful? Could you name it, nail it down, write it on a sign? Is it something you could share or would it remain a personal secret? Would you wear your wish upon your sleeve or swallow it like a burning truth?

Karen Armstrong has a wish. The TED Prize winner’s wish is as follows:

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.

From this one wish a movement has been spawned. Around the world, people from all cultures and religions are coming together to affirm The Charter for Compassion. The charter:

The Golden Rule requires that we use empathy — moral imagination — to put ourselves in others’ shoes. We should act toward them as we would want them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause them harm.

For me, compassion is feeling, thought and action. It is something we feel, something we consider – but perhaps most importantly, it is something we must act upon. We don’t show compassion by clicking a button, joining a cause online or digitally signing a petition. We show it by moving out of our comfort zones, stepping beyond our deeply worn paths of apathy and acting in a way that transforms (even momentarily), the life of another.


November 12 sees the launch of the Charter for Compassion and along with the celebrations and events that will be taking place around the globe to mark the launch of the Charter, a number of Australians were asked what compassion means to them. These individuals shared their time and their thoughts on compassion. But you can do more. Visit the Charter for Compassion website (or Facebook page) to learn, share and act.

Oh, and you can view the Australian video below. In order of appearance, it features: Adriano Zumbo, Cathie McGinn, Dr Stephen Saunders, Neil Perry, Melissa Leong, Barry Saunders, Mitzi Macintosh, Mark Pollard, Julie Posetti, Venerable Sujato Bhikkhu, Gavin Heaton, Reverend Raymond Minniecon, Bronwen Clune, Reverend Bill Crews, Rabbi Mendel Castell, Graham Long and Tim Burrowes.

Australians on Compassion from TED Prize on Vimeo.