Sunday, June 5, 2011

Can we transform our world based solely on our common interests?

"Our righteous minds were designed to unite us into teams, divide us against other teams and blind us to the truth ... we need to step out of the moral matrix and cultivate moral humility.. we are passionately involved to improve our world but we are also passionately committed to the truth ... and use our passionate commitment to the truth and turn it into a better future for us all."

 - Jonathan Haidt - Author "Happiness Hypothesis" (TED talk on moral roots of liberals and conservatives) 


Do our debates about God's existence or non-existence really important?  Our convictions are important to us (believers or non-believers) but can we work together based on our common interests?

From a theistic perspective,  we believe that God is immaterial, a spirit and that God had endowed each human being a distinct spirit.  Our faith teaches us and also our hearts and minds tell us about our personal and social duties to love one another.   Our life can be happy or sad, we can help or oppress other people.  When someone gains power and commits injustice or atrocities to other people and somehow escape judgment  in this world, we realize that injustices and crimes should not have happened  because we should have been fervent in our social duties, we should have setup systems or are now helping setup systems that prevent injustice and crime from happening.  We also believe even if a person escapes earthly judgment, this person will not escape God's judgment and the spirit that survives (the intellect and will) will be punished accordingly.  Individually, after doing our best to live justly within the sphere of our influence,  we die and we return back to God in peace.

From an atheistic perspective, we don't care if God exists,  God is immaterial, not important.  We know however that in our hearts and minds, we have a personal and social duties to love one another.  Our life can be happy or sad, we can help or oppress other people.  When someone gains power and commits injustice or atrocities to other people and somehow escape judgment in this world, we realize that injustices and crimes should not have happened because we should have been fervent in our social duties, we should have setup systems or are now helping setup systems that prevent injustice and crime from happening.  When an unjust person dies, the only thing that matters is that we prevent injustices to happen in the future.  Individually, after doing our best to live justly within the sphere of our influence,  we die in peace.

Looking from our world history and our debates, I believe these perspectives can agree on many things (among others):

1.  We are free and we can choose to love and be happy and help other people to be loved and be happy as well; and because we can be weak and abuse our freedom, we also empower a government system to prevent or deal with our weaknesses.

2.  We want to know and live by the truth and let justice prevail.  We want to be responsible and hold others to account and make sure our systems is just, equitable and earth-sustainable.

3.  Failing to live to the good ideals of God or failing to be responsible in our personal and social duties will oppress or kill other people.

4.  Using the idea of God or the idea that there is no God to empower people to oppress or kill other people is a bad idea.

5.  Using our identities as God's people, or using our imperfect personal integrity as a moral authority in dealing with other people instead of the power of our common ideas does not seem to work in our cooperations.

Maybe we need a new word for God because whatever is our belief and conviction, we are essentially talking about the same idea.

Many people feel uncomfortable when others say that we abandon "God" because we don't realize that the transcendence of God also means our humanism - caring concern for our fellow humans. Many people are also worried that our belief in God will cause us to blindly follow God and oppress other people which is a contradiction, although sadly, it can happen in some places - but this situations are extremism, the trajectory that we should and can avoid in all kinds of beliefs and convictions. 

We can translate and contribute the power of our beliefs or non-beliefs and agree on our common interests that will help setup systems that prevent, at the most,  gross injustices and crimes from happening.  We can enable systems that resolve crises and transform our economy into a just, equitable and earth-sustainable global home.

The power of our convictions can strengthen our resolve to energize the hearts and minds of many people and achieve a critical number of caring and inspired people enough to transform our world.


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