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Karen Armstrong, founder of the Charter for Compassion, discusses recent controversy over the planned building of a mosque and Islamic community center two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. She argues that it’s important to “make room for the other,” and concludes that the center could serve to “make peace at the site of tragedy.”
Karen Armstrong discusses “The Mystery of Compassion” in collaboration with the Chautauqua Institution’s 2010 Summer Lecture Series. This program was recorded on August 20, 2010.
Karen Armstrong is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence in 1993 with her highly successful A History of God. A former Catholic nun, she asserts that, “All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences.” They each have in common, she says, an emphasis on the transcendent importance of compassion, as epitomized in the so-called Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Awarded the $100,000 TED Prize in February 2008, she called for drawing up a Charter for Compassion in the spirit of the Golden Rule, to identify shared moral priorities across religious traditions, in order to foster global understanding. It was unveiled in Washington, D.C. in November 2009. Signatories include Prince Hassan of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson. – Chautauqua Institution