Let me say first that I am unequivocally in favor of compassion. But Karen Armstrong's proposal that the world should write a Charter for Compassion is typical of the mushy thinking displayed by those who promote the dubious notion that all religions have a similar core, that religion is necessary for morality, and that religious believers should be the arbiters of morality. In fact, "the world" has already written an excellent charter for compassion. It is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948. It is a wonderful document, heavily influenced by Eleanor Roosevelt, who managed to steer the declaration through a tangle of competing interests (religious and nonreligious) of many nations. But many countries, including our own, ignore this document when they choose because there is no real power to enforce it.
-- Susan Jacoby, author of "The Age of American Unreason"