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J. de Venecia: A Global Ethic

Peace is the greatest need of our time. We have gathered here because we, too, share this universal longing for peace, which all of us feel most acutely during this sacred season. Peace on Earth is our greatest need, but it is also our most elusive collective goal. Goodwill among men remains sadly lacking in the world of our time.

We in East Asia are comparatively lucky, compared to many parts of Africa, Southern Europe, and West Asia. Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Kosovo, Chechnya, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Kashmir, and Sri Lanka—all of these places are the settings of genocidal wars set off by quarrels over ethnicity, religion, language, and raw material resources.

Comparatively lucky though we may be, Muslims and Buddhists are killing each other in Southern Thailand; Christians and Muslims have been fighting in Eastern Indonesia; while soldiers brutalize Theravada monks marching against the military rulers of Burma.

Here in our own country, we have a separatist Muslim movement in portions of Mindanao and Sulu, and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf on Basilan Island.

Peace among religions

In this situation, what are we to do? We must bring to bear on our problems the moral influence of the great religions, for there can be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.

Understanding among the great religions and the great civilizations has become the only basis for global peace that will endure. Thus, we are called on to stimulate interfaith dialogue between the great religions. To this purpose, we must mobilize churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques—Buddhists, Confucianists, Hindus, and Jews no less than Christians and Muslims—to strengthen the forces of moderation in every society and to isolate the extremists who advocate violence and terror.

But on what principle is dialogue among the faiths to take place? There can be no dialogue between the great religions without their agreement on moral values—one ethical standard that all the faith and belief systems can share above and beyond their surface differences in dogmas, symbols, and rituals.

The Golden Rule

The Catholic philosopher and theologian Hans Kung suggests that humankind can discover this core global ethic in the simple but profound principle: "Treat others as you would like to be treated."

All belief systems subscribe to this "Golden Rule." This "Golden Rule" could indeed become the common ethical denominator for all the belief systems on Earth, because all the belief systems subscribe to it, in strikingly similar forms. For instance:

  •  Buddhists express this rule thus: "Treat all creatures as you would like to be treated."
  • Confucianists teach: "What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others."
  • Muslims say: "No one of you is a believer until you desire for your neighbor that which you desire for yourself."
  • Jews say: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor that is the basic law."
  • Hindus agree: "This is the essence of morality: Do not do to others which if done to you would cause you pain."

As the mother of ethics for the whole of humankind, this Golden Rule could, therefore, become the core of initial agreement around which interfaith dialogue in our time could build a thousand years of peace.

A global ethic

The urgency of interfaith dialogue is something none of us can deny.

Never before in the world's history have people's welfare become so dependent on one another. From the threat of HIV/AIDS to the melting of the polar icecaps; from nuclear proliferation to environmental degradation; from income inequality to hunger in the midst of plenty—we are confronted with problems that we must deal with together.

Because the social, ecological, and moral problems we face are global in their implications, we must also "globalize" our moral values and ethical standards, if we are to deal adequately with them.

Accepting the Golden Rule as the global ethic will ensure that all our nations and all our faiths embrace pluralism in culture and in society. Accepting the global ethic will focus our hearts and minds in our common involvement in mankind. Accepting the global ethic will impress on us the poetic truth that "No man is an island, but a part of the mainland."

From materialism to spirituality

In sum, the Rev. Moon teaches that our present age of materialism may soon yield to an age of spirituality, to a new universal culture of unselfish service to others, to a new universal culture of God-centered families.

The Rev. Moon teaches that global peace begins simply and naturally with peace in the family, and that harmony, peace, and happiness within the family begin with a relation to the Creator, a relation similar to that of children to the parent. Hence the solution to world peace is to renew, re-establish, and re-strengthen the relationship between the Creator and each family.

Because we Filipinos regard Christmas as the season for celebrating family ties, we are in harmony with new age of spirituality that the Rev. Moon foresees. May peace in our homes and in our hearts radiate throughout the world this Christmas and bring forth the thousand years of God's peace we all long for.