‘World Citizens-Not Consumers’

People’s spiritual beliefs influence their attitude toward climate change, with religious groups increasingly helping to frame humanity’s response to environmental issues. That was one of the messages from a session at the 33rd annual conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, held in mid-August in Washington. The gathering drew nearly 1,000 participants from some 20 countries. The theme of the conference was “Environments,” and one of the plenary speakers was Peter G. Brown, a geography professor at McGill University in Montreal who has participated in the Moral Economy Project of the Quaker Institute for the Future. Dr. Brown said the current economic paradigm is bringing mayhem to the planet and that people need to learn to think of themselves as citizens, not consumers. “We need a different image of ourselves,” he said – an image that sees humanity as part of a long “co-evolutionary” process. Rather than asking how to better exploit the earth’s resources, humanity should be asking how to live with an ethic of respect and reciprocity for all life, he said. Society’s concept of morality is too limited, he continued, suggesting that a moral framework must be applied to systems, not just to individuals. “We have not been able to connect our scientific knowledge with our moral systems,” he noted. A Baha’i speaker, Peter Adriance, described how religious groups and faith communities are increasingly collaborating with the environmental movement. He quoted Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founder of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, as saying that “no other group of institutions can wield the particular moral authority of the religions.” Mr. Adriance listed a dozen initiatives by various groups that focus on spiritual or moral aspects of creating a sustainable environment.

Source: http://news.bahai.org/story/728

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