Monday, 20 December 2010


During this holiday season people of all faiths or the absence of 'religious faith' could begin to change the world by rejecting moral nihilism and asserting universal humane values; they could mark a new beginning by recognizing that what seems 'natural' behavior rooted in materialistic value system is conditioned and unnatural. This at least is a prayer that universal human (anthropocentric) values that seem unnatural could become the foundation motivating all action by individuals and institutions alike. 

Realistically, one could argue that such glowing optimism is unwarranted in an era when
a) most of the world is experiencing a lingering and deem economic recession;
b) roughly one-third of the world's population is suffering from man-made not nature-caused poverty, while a couple of hundred thousand families own such a disproportionate share of the world's wealth;
c) wars of the conventional and non-conventional types are still causing destruction and chaos, while countries and amassing weapons conventional and mass destruction breed insecurity just as they promise to deliver safety and security;
d) politicians and elites of all stripes - secular and religious - are often as credible and as honorable as commercial advertisements for used cars under the label "program vehicles";
e) it feels like we are all stuck inside the world of Charles Dickens without the uplifting ending where everything turns out to be just fine and everyone lives happily ever after.

Globalization of the market economy has resulted in globalization of values, although not always values that make us more humane and compassionate, but instead values that glorify what theologians and philosophers would consider vices or sins, such as antagonism and greed at all levels of human endeavor, as a way of life and as life's goals, values we have come to accept as natural as the sun rising in the morning. And what is so wrong with revenge, greed, antagonism, blind atomistic pursuit when they all feel good thus they must be natural? To ask people to transcend these 'seemingly natural tendencies' is to ask them to be saintly and turn their back on survival and individual progress.

Although seemingly following divergent paths, the varieties of religious experiences, as William James observed, and the humanist tradition rooted in anthropocentric values, (today closely identified with bio-diversity) have in common the positive element of asserting the desire to advance humanity's edification.

The sacred Hindu texts VEDAS eventually evolved to include universal ethics and compassion as the cornerstone of the faith that was passed on to Buddhism. The wisdom of the TORAH can be summarized as 'love your neighbor as oneself', and 'do not do to the other what is hateful to you'. The same doctrine of compassion is reflected in the New Testament as Matthew and Paul preached universal love and forgiveness in the era of the early Roman Empire. The Prophet Mohammad practiced forgiveness and compassion to the offender, passing on these humane values to the faith of Islam. No secular thinker rooted in a humanist tradition, including atheists, could disagree with the TORAH, Christianity, and Islam, all linked in the universality of their message and all sharing key doctrines in common. No secular thinker can argue with Hinduism and Buddhism that appeal to the core of what links all humanity and indeed all life together into ONE.


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