On October 23 - 24 the 5th International Forum took place in Moscow, dedicated to environmental problems.
Organizers of the Forum invited me to participate.
Below is my report “Care of Nature in Religions”:
Hello, Dear Friends! Thank you for inviting me! It is an honor to participate in the 5th International Forum “Religion and the World”, dedicated to environmental problems. Because of aim of a religion is to eliminate the two causes of environmental crisis: consumerism and opposition of self-interests to the interests of others.
Speaking of consumerism, it is necessary to note that it forms when people are oriented on sense gratification or, as saints call it, animalistic needs. They are the pleasures money can buy that we feel through our bodily senses: everything we can touch, taste, eat, buy and sell.
But religion leads us to other values that we feel with our soul: love, friendship, relationships not perceived by the body. We cannot touch love and friendship and cannot buy them. All religions lift us from the bodily platform which is the reason for all wars. Opposing their bodily interests to each other, orthodox christians kill other orthodox christians in Ukraine, muslims kill other muslims in Syria. It is not the questions of religion but the value system. All religions are calling to lift us from the material level, where everything can be bought for money, to the values that cannot be bought - love, friendship, relationships.
The essence of religions is in perfection of relationships, in perfections of value system. Even from the point of view of the material science, a human differs from other entities by his ability to consciously improve relationships with others. All religions have this common principle. The Commandments of all religions protect us from all that ruins relationships. “You shall not steal” - stealing ruins relationships. «You shall not commit adultery» – adultery ruins relationships. “You shall not bear false witness”, “You shall not gossip” – gossip and mean words ruin relationships. “You shall not kill!” - killing is the termination of all relationships.
Thus, perfection of relationships is the essence of all religions. Therefore, to be practical, I offer to all representatives of various religions to request their governments to change the criteria for social welfare assessment. I also request Vladimir Stanislavovich Pavlenko - the member of the UN information center - to please request the UN to change the criteria for evaluation of the development of the countries and societies.
A consumer society is formed when a state and society are assessed by economic criteria: a gross domestic product, market basket, wage level and so on. In fact, these are false criteria of assessment. There is no use of investments if the whole income will be received by foreign investors. There is no use of gross domestic product indexes if the income is not distributed in even proportions: the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer. All these economic figures are false since they do not reflect the real state of life in a society. The real state of life is reflected by interpersonal relationships.
If we consider ourselves religious, 90% of the world population relate itself to some religious confession, we should support particularly these criteria. There are few real atheists, but even they say the main thing that brings happiness is relationships. Recently Harvard University published results of the longest research in the history of modern science. Since late 1930-s there were researched 2000 children of the richest and the poorest families. It was found out that only those who took relationships into their prime consideration became successful, happy, and healthy in their old age. Obviously, here is the touch point of religion and science.
To eliminate the reason of all environmental problems and consumerism we need to assess the welfare of every human, society and state according to the level of interpersonal relationships. A state with all its constituents, such as policy, education, culture, economy, should strive for improvement of interpersonal relationships and character development.
The figures reflecting interpersonal relationships are the true indexes. Number of divorces, abortions, marriages, as well as number of children in foster homes, old people in nursing homes, people suffering from depression, those who committed suicides, cases of revealed corruption, crimes, domestic abuse - these are the figures truly reflecting interpersonal relationships. When relationships are good there will be no social and economic problems, as it is relationships that are the main criterion that contributes to a state’s and society’s health. Broken relationships bring about social diseases and crises. My first suggestion is to switch from economic growth and consuming progress to the priority of relationship development.
The second important thing to be eliminated by religions is opposition of interests. Actually, the base of nowadays environmental problems is opposition of producers’ interests to consumers’ ones. Presently producers deliberately reduce their goods life by 5-10 times, they manufacture goods in such a way that they quickly turn into rubbish. Scientists calculated : if the manufacturing is effectuated in a proper way, we will need to maintain the level of life we have now working just one day a week. Meanwhile, we work 7-10 hours, 5-7 days a week to buy these trash goods incessantly. If we simply stop deliberately reducing of goods life (without mentioning of introduction of new environmental technologies), then only one factory will smoke instead of 10! All modern wars are nothing but fights for resources, for the sake of trash goods manufacturing and new market outlets, as their inner markets are overloaded with one time use of goods that in a year will end up at a dump site turning our planet into a great dump site.
And, if we speak about religion and spirituality, let’s take into consideration the chief statement of all religions: everything belongs to God! All resources belong to God. The sacred Quran directly forbids buying and selling the land. From the point of view of any religion, no one has the right to lay claim to resources since they are created by God for the welfare of all His creatures. To annihilate the cause of social inequality, there should be cancelled the Roman law statement implemented in the legal systems of all countries. The statement grants to an individual or corporation the right to possess unlimited material resources without any responsibility to others concerning their welfare resulting from the resources usage. All spiritual cultures have always prescribed to bear such a responsibility though. Somehow, modern legislation releases an individual of the responsibility due to the Roman law statement.
For the purpose of self-realization to the highest extent, every person has to be developed in three fields: morality, understanding of life and responsibility.
Tim Kirby present here said that in Western countries there is an acute confrontation between religious people and environmentalists. The religious people say, “We are created by God that means we are good”, whereas environmentalists proclaim that a human is harmful to Nature, for Nature’s sake it is necessary to widely practice abortion and slash the number of people by all means: “the less you breathe – the less you do harm to Nature!”
In reality, a human is potentially good. We are all good, we just do bad things. The essence of the world religions is the obligation for a human to transform his or her consumer’s self into divine self, to learn how to live here according to God’s will and become worthy of entering the God’s realm. Such a transformation happens when we take care of others. Because a relationship progress is care about the welfare of everyone, including our future generations!
Thank you so much for your attention!