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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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  • Jul 13 2012: Morally how can one "love one's enemy" if said enemy has proven that they do not respect the Golden Rule? How can you continue to show compassion to those who have shown and continue to show no compassion for others?

    The Golden Rule is a guideline for treating people with compassion. It does not ask for continued compassion where no compassion can be found.

    I would say the Golden Rule really should be stated as "Treat your neighbour as well as he is willing to treat you and others." If you both follow this you then can live harmoniously.

    I do not look at someone I have not met or heard about as a person to be looked down on; however, I will not consentually be "nice" to someone whom I know to, or has been proven to, have done things morally aborent to me. You do not be "nice" to the serial rapist.

    I will be compassionate to friends and strangers alike but I will not let that sway my morals when it comes to the lack therof. This is why I cannot sign the Charter for Compassion.
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      Jul 26 2012: Hi Stephen,
      It's taken a long time and a lot of thinking, before I felt able to reply to your comment.
      I once listened to a lecture give by a United Nations historian on the history of the organisation. He said that he felt that the quest for Justice was preventing peace from being established in most of the worlds troublespots. People would not draw a line under a dispute until the scales of justice were balanced and it was entirely subjective who had tipped the scales of justice first, and by how much. They could not be balanced in everyones eyes at the same time.
      Let's consider your rapist. Why did they commit the crime? Perhaps they were abused as a child, the scales are already tipped against them. What would the outcome have been if they had been shown more compassion in the past, before the crime? Perhaps they are mentally ill, they did not want to be this way, the scales are already tipped against them. Total lack of empathy (Psychopathy) is a mental condition that is not chosen as a way of life, and so the scales are tipped agsainst the Psychopath from the start. The important thing is to understand the reasons for the crime, try to see that it does not re-occur in the offender, and look to see that new offenders are not made. Demonstrating compassion is not impossible with either of these goals in mind.
      What about the victim? Justice may be demanded by, or on behalf of the victim, but in the case of a rape, the justice will not undo or make reparation for the crime. So is the Justice demanded in fact Revenge? Perhaps what the victim really needs is the compassionate support of the rest of the community, whilst rebuilding their life. This support is usually sadly low in the list of priorities for most legal systems.
      I'm fortunate, I've never experienced a serious offence against my family or friends. Would I be able to practice what I've just said if I did. I don't know. I hope so, and signing the Charter is a part of my effort to ensure I would try.


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