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The Antidote to Intolerance? Amplifying the Voice of Compassion

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At a time when religious intolerance is creeping into public consciousness, now is an important moment to highlight Karen Armstrong, who won the TED Prize in 2008, and then made her wish to create a Charter for Compassion.

To be specific, this is a charter that shows that the principal of compassion is at the core of all major faith traditions.

Calls to burn the Koran on this September 11th -- which thankfully are not moving forward -- demonstrate a religious intolerance that does not reflect how most Americans feel. We need better, more open dialogue about the world's religions, and to foster acceptance and discussion rather than fear and hate.

Karen Armstrong has done just this, first as a Roman Catholic nun, then as an author who has written extensively on religion and spirituality, and now as a leader at the helm of Charter for Compassion.

Since being awarded the TED Prize, and then coming up with her wish, her vision has evolved and become a union of 130 partner organizations and a website -- unveiled less than a year ago -- that has drawn more than 53,000 people from across the globe (from all religions) who have affirmed their belief in religious compassion and tolerance.

As the first line of the charter states, the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.

One of our earliest Charter partners was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has devoted his life to healing the relations between Muslim Americans and their neighbors. He is also the person behind the community center near Ground Zero, and sadly he has become a target of the intolerance he works so tirelessly eradicate.

At a pre-launch event for the Center, we recorded talks on compassion from different leaders of six major faith traditions, and I encourage you to watch Imam Feisal's speech.

These difficult moments reaffirm what the TED Prize and larger TED community can help inspire- in this case becoming part of a movement that has united tens of thousands of people to advance religious compassion.

Clearly there is work to be done. We need to turn up the volume of the compassionate voice, one that isn't getting much notice in today's media. Each name added to the Charter amplifies that voice. Visit the Charter, add your name, and in the next two days share it with your family and friends: