TED Conversations

Nigel Bamber

Head of Structural Analysis, Caterham F1 Team

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Have you signed the Charter for Compassion, and if not, why not?

The Charter for Compassion was opened for people to affirm in November 2009.
I signed it last night, and was the 88390th person to do so. Tonight it is up to 88429.
Nearly 1/2 a million people have watched Karens' TED talk announcing the Charter.
So why haven't more people signed it?
Perhaps you didn't know about it? I've only just found it out of over a thousand TED talks. Perhaps you watched the talk, but were too busy to look at the charter website? Perhaps you took a dislike to Karen?
I hope there wasn't anyone who didn't sign because they are opposed to the idea of compassion!
Maybe you are a non-believer and thought it was only a religious thing. It's not.
Read it. It asks you affirm a principle which is at the heart of secular codes of morality as well as religious ones, a principle which may be hard wired into our brains.

So have you signed it? Have a look at the charter itself (ignore the talks, all the other stuff on the charter website) and if you can't sign, please tell me why. What would have to be different for you to accept it!

There are 1.2 million TED community members. Let's see if we can give the charter a boost and stand up and be counted in the process?



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    Jun 27 2012: I have not. The reason is I simply do not agree with the charter. That is not to say I oppose it, but that I know I could not fulfill it.
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      Jun 29 2012: Hi Robert,

      I know that I can't fulfil the charter 100%. Already lost my rag at someone who pulled out in front of my car on the way to work, hitting the horn and feeling full of righteous aggrievement. Then I thought, "What am I doing? I signed the Charter for Compassion the other night". It made me feel a right idiot and defused my anger. I should have been working for peace on the road, instead of wanting justice for having been nearly crashed into. For the rest of the journey I was giving way to people on the road all over the place. But the memory of signing the charter will fade. What will happen in a month or twos' time in a similar situation. Perhaps I should have a charter that I sign every evening or week to reinforce the compassionate concept in myself.

      This regular reinforcement of concepts is something that is done very effectively by ritual in lots of religions. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent process in the secular world. Alain de Botton does a very interesting TED talk on the lessons that the secular world can learn from the religeous world.
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        Jun 29 2012: It is interesting that you would bring up religion and I find it a valid point as religions do convey various benefits to those that participate. My own religion does not operate in the same manner as most. This pledge is not consistent with my religion thus it makes it very hard for me to "make the pledge". I would have to chose between following the practices that have gotten me to this point and a new set of practices that I have not tested in my life. I do not try to convert people to my religion because one of the things my religion is based upon is the complete understanding that it is not for everyone. So that may bring up the question of do I have compassion that is comparable to what is in the charter? At this point I can not say as I judge my self based only upon the actions I take and not the thoughts I have. In other words I get no points for thinking good thoughts I must do good deeds. So is signing a charter a good deed? In the view of my religion it as I know my actions will not support the charter in full. It would be a kind of deception. Worse it would be a deception without direct purpose.
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          Jun 29 2012: Now you have me extremely curious! Would it be too much of an intrusion to ask if you able to tell us something about your religion? If not publically in this forum, them could you PM me?

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