Forum Commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic

Sep 4, 2003 ◄ Back to list

Is the world moving closer towards a global ethic – a worldwide consensus on fundamental values and ethical behaviours? If not, what are the reasons and what can we do to move in this direction?

These were the key questions raised in Dr Chandra Muzaffar's keynote lecture at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM on September 4, 2003. Entitled ‘No Survival of our Globe Without a Global Ethic’, the lecture was presented at a forum to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic by the Parliament of the World's Religions. The organisers were Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, Malaysian Interfaith Network and Soka Gakkai Malaysia.

Many have questioned whether a global ethic transcending religious boundaries was really possible, given the diversity of religions and beliefs throughout the world.

Quoting the words of Prof Hans Kfing, one of the main drafters of the declaration, Peter Schier from the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in his introductory speech said, "A global ethic means neither a global ideology nor a single unified global religion transcending all existing religions nor a mixture of all religions... A global ethic seeks to work out what is already common to the religions of the world despite all their differences over human conduct, values and basic moral conviction. In other words, a global ethic does not reduce the religions to an ethical minimalism but represents the minimum of what the religions of the world already have in common. The global ethic is not directed against anyone but it invites all-believers and non believers to make this ethic their own and to act in accordance with it."

In his lecture, Dr Chandra listed out what he perceived to be the ten most critical challenges to achieving a global ethic. They are:

1.    War and armed conflicts
2.    Terrorism
3.    Obsession with security
4.    Poverty
5.    Growing gap between the rich and poor
6.    Corruption
7.    Repression and authoritarianism
8.    Racial discrimination
9.    Pornography and the sensate culture
10. Erosion of the family and the institution of marriage

According to Dr Chandra, most of these challenges are not new. However, in recent years, many of the problems have intensified or are increasingly at risk of being sidelined. He attributed the current malaise to three reasons that are linked to ethics and values: hegemony, greed and selfishness. He suggested among other things, that education and learning the common values of each other's religions as one of the remedies. He also suggested that different religious bodies should work together at the grassroots level to translate dialogues into actions.

Representatives from different faiths were invited to comment on the lecture. They were Venerable Dr K Sri Dhammananda (Buddhism), Dr K Dhamaratnam (Hinduism), Harcharan V. Singh (Sikhism), Rev Dr Hermen Shastri (Christianity) and Dr G Gopinath (Bahai Faith). Diplomats, academicians and representatives from religious organisations were among those who attended the forum.

The event was also significant as the Bahasa Malaysia version of the decade-old declaration was launched by Dr Amir Farid Ishak, the representative from the Malaysian Interfaith Network (MIN) and Chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship (InSaF) together with Peter Schier, representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. More than 250 people attended the event.

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