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A global online push for compassion

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"The idea is to empower ordinary members of the communities to demand a more compassionate voice from their leaders, better guidance, and interfaith action," Armstrong says.

But can a manifesto really change the world? Some have: Martin Luther's 95 theses, the Declaration of Independence, the Communist Manifesto, among others. There are also, however, a long line of charters now gathering dust.

The appeal to compassion is "too amorphous" and won't do the job, writes Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, in a Beliefnet column. What's really needed is to teach those in every religious community "about the sacredness of modesty, humility, questioning.... When people experience that posture as rooted in the depths of the tradition they love,... fewer people around the world will die in the names of those traditions."

One difference with this charter is its online, bottom-up approach.

"This is groundbreaking technology because it allows everyone's voice to be heard," says Nicole Greenbaum, a spokeswoman for the Kluster technology team that's supporting charterforcompassion.com. Kluster is a decisionmaking platform that lets users contribute ideas and rate the other ideas submitted based on a set of criteria. The best ideas are identified and fine-tuned using the criteria.

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