The Golden Rule: The Path Way to Human Right and World Peace
Ambassador Mussie Hailu
Board Chairman, Interfaith Peace-building Initiative
We are living at critical moment in our history, a time when humanity must choose its future. Our world is experiencing a fundamental global crisis: a crisis in global economy, global climate change, global degradation of values, and respect to all human right and life forms.
Throughout the world people are suffering from unemployment, poverty, hunger, war, racial discrimination, human right abused, ethnic and religion conflicts, the abuse of drugs, organized crime, corruption, and all other negative elements that we see in the world. The divorce rate is growing, the number of single parents increasing, children are growing without universal moral and spiritual values. Most of these problems result from the absences of a Global Ethic, universal principles of life and a moral attitude to be guided by.
This entire global crisis is a crisis which we all share in common. It is not only a problem of a certain country or region but it is a problem of all humanity. To solve this global problem we need a global solution. Each and every one of us needs to be part of the solution by taking our own personal action as the world can only change when we change ourselves. If everyone does his or her part, together we can accomplish our common dream which is a better and peaceful world in which all humankind can live in peace and harmony along with nature and all other living beings.
Our world is continuously changing, and in this changing world we can't remain as we are, nor can we go back to conditions that are now behind us. We can only move forward, but not on the same path which has been leading us into war, conflict, violence, hunger, discrimination, poverty, disrespect, hate and all the other negative elements. We should not go on living in crisis and conflict. The world need not remain violent, and economically, socially and ecologically unsustainable. We can progress towards harmony, cooperation, livable communities, and a value system that nourishes and sustains us and all things that live on this Earth. For this to happen we need to follow the Golden Rule as a pathway to peace and human right path which lead as from war to peace, from killing each other to co-existence, from disrespect to honoring each other, from hate to love, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from being selfish to living for the sake of others and from revenge to forgiveness.
The Golden Rule is a universal principle that says "treat others the way you want to be treated." The message of the Golden Rule is simple, universal and powerful and is the most prevalent and universal moral principle in human history. It has been affirmed in many religions, traditions, indigenous cultures and secular philosophies as a fundamental principle of life and the foundation upon which the base of a Global Ethic is found.
The Golden Rule is not just a moral ideal for relationships between people but also for relationships among nations, cultures, races, sexes, economies and religions. Clearly, the Golden Rule has the capacity to be the ethical cornerstone in developing a Global Ethic as the human family works together to build a peaceful, just and sustainable global society.
As a result of broad-based immigration patterns in recent decades, humanity is moving toward a global society with interaction among peoples in every conceivable way - economic, political, social, ethnic, cultural, technological, and religious. Our shrinking "global village" is evolving into a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Indeed, we are witnessing the emergence of a global consciousness - an increasing number of people are coming to see themselves as members of one family in an interdependent universe.
The Golden Rule, with roots in a wide range of world cultures, is well suited to be a standard to which different cultures could appeal in resolving conflicts. As the world becomes more and more a single interacting global community, the need for such a common standard is becoming more urgent and is endorsed by all the great world religions.
Therefore it is a high time for all of us, as citizens of this planet, to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with all living beings and Mother Earth. Every one of us shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of all life on Earth. As much as we claim our right we need also to bear in mind our personal responsibility.
We must recognize that in the midst of magnificent diversity of cultures, religions, ethnicities and race we are part of one human family with a common destiny.
Hence, we must join hands together, now more than ever, to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on a Global Ethic based on the teaching of the Golden Rule. To reflect on the Golden Rule is to reflect from the perspective of universal wisdom and a Global Ethic.
The Global Ethic is a set of universal principles that call upon the wisdom of the world's many cultures, religions and secular philosophies. Because the Golden Rule is found in so many religions and cultures, it is a key moral ingredient in the development of a Global Ethic
The Golden Rule is also known as the Ethic of Reciprocity. It is considered to be a key reference point for the development of a Global Ethic. The Golden Rule is arguably the most consistent and most prevalent ethical teaching in history. Many regard it as the most concise and general principle of ethics.
It is found in numerous cultures, religions, ethical systems, secular philosophies, and indigenous traditions. And because the Golden Rule crosses so many traditions and philosophies, it possesses tremendous moral authority and reveals a profound unity underlying the diversity of human experience. It is a common denominator of all life on Earth. The Golden Rule also emphasizes values of mutuality, interdependence and reciprocity. Given its omnipresence across history, the Golden Rule could be described as a universal ethical principle.
If we truly want to open a new chapter in human history and see a new world based on a culture of peace and social justice, I believe it is high time to promote the Golden Rule throughout the world as it is a fundamental principle that addresses critical issues such as democracy, human rights, respect for each other, gender equity, social development, interfaith harmony, constructive dialogue among nations, conflict prevention and right human relationship. By acting wisely, effectively and collectively under the Golden Rule we can create a more peaceful, ethical and better world for all.
With this core values in mind, in 2007 the Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (IPI) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and a member organization of United Religions Initiative (URI) declared April 5 as a "Golden Rule Day" and called upon all citizens of the world, religious leaders of the world, mayors, heads of state of the world, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the League of Arab States, interfaith organizations, schools, higher learning institutions, the business community and civil society to join IPI in proclaiming this day as Golden Rule Day and to live accordingly to make this world a better place for all and the coming generation.
In addition to this IPI also started a Golden Rule Goodwill Ambassador programme to highlight more the need of Golden Rule to promote a culture of peace, interfaith harmony and Global Ethic.
As part of conflict preventing mechanism I strongly believe on the need for generating at school level a culture of peace and the teaching of the Golden Rule from the grassroots up by mainstreaming peace education, cultivating conflict resolution skills and promoting reconciliation. School needs to play a major role in unleashing our young generation spirit with good character and peace education as we expect school not only to make children smart and intelligent but to make them good, all rounded, concerned and visionary citizen in all walks of life who can contribute to their family, community, country, and the world. Therefore I would like to call upon UNESCO, UNICEF, University for Peace, UN as a whole & the Ministry of Education of all countries and all other relevant authority to consider and make Peace Education as part of the Education Curriculum through out the world.
Dr. Hans Küng, (Prof. Emeritus of the Tübingen University, Germany) a noted scholar of world religions, is a key moving force behind the movement for a Global Ethic. For Küng, the Global Ethic cannot be implemented unless there is genuine dialogue among the world's religions:
"No human life without a world ethic for the nations. No peace among the nations without peace among the religions. No peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions. No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards.
No survival of our globe with out a global ethic, supported by both religious and nonreligious people"
It is also for this reason people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world established an international interfaith peace organization as a spiritual wing of a United Nations. This organization is United Religions Initiative which I have the honor to serve as its regional Director for Africa. URI is created to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, to end
religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. This organization is a bridge-building organization, not a religion and it has an NGO consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council and members through out the world including in Ethiopia
On the occasion of the 1993 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago representatives of all religions reached agreement on two principle for a global ethic: 1) The principle of humanity that every human must be treated humanely 2) In practically all cultures and religions of humankind there is a formal basic principle the Golden Rule of reciprocity and that is " What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others". This declaration also challenges all people to commit themselves to:
A culture of non-violence and respect for life
A culture of solidarity and a just economic order
A culture of tolerance and truthfulness
A culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women
The document which was signed by 300 representatives of the world's religions at the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago says "We are interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings. We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. We make a commitment to respect life and dignity, individuality and diversity, so that every person is treated humanely, without exception." We need to make the Golden Rule as a guiding principle of life throughout the world if we truly want to see human right being respected in the world.
For new ways to unfold before us, for enemies to bow before each other. for tears to bathe wounds of war, for hatred to soften into harmony, for greed to turn to generosity and for the Golden Rule to be the order of the day we need to ask ourselves "what is my role in making this happen what should I do to create such peaceful homes, communities, countries and the world?"
World peace is only possible when we start to make peace within ourselves, our families and in our respective communities. Therefore all of us need to make extra effort to practice every day
1) To respect our self, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism, hurtful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.
2) To share our feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express our anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.
3) To listen carefully to others, especially those who dialogue with us, and to consider others’ feelings and needs, rather than insist on having our own way.
4) To apologize and make amends when we hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges.
5) To treat the environment and all living things and beings with respect and care.
6) To avoid entertainment that features violence.
6) To challenge violence in all its forms whenever we encounter it.
7) To respect and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
8) To live by, uphold and be guided by the Golden Rule and use it as our motto and principle in life.
As, Citizens of the World, we need to open our hearts and minds to understand the uniqueness of each one of us and to pour out the spirit of love, compassion, forgiveness and living for the sake of other so that our hearts will open more and our minds will understand the depth of our call as human being living in the 21st century. We need to avoid violence in all its form by making the Golden Rule the first article of our faith and the last article of our creed.
I ask the Creator of the Universe to grant us light, guidance, vision and to direct our hearts and minds to the path that leads us to peace, harmony, coexistence, and respect for each other and all living things more than ever. May we be with the presence of each other at deep levels of our thinking, feeling and acting. I pray for God to open our hearts and minds to understand the uniqueness of each one of us and to pour out the spirit of love, forgiveness and living for the sake of others so that our hearts will open more and our minds will understand the depth of being a human being and to serve humanity and Mother Earth.
May Peace, Global Ethic, Golden Rule, Human Right and Social Justice Prevail on Earth