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Building Social Cohesion, Toward a Global Ethic
As divisions between nations, religions, and political affiliations have increasingly polarized the human family, there is urgent need for leadership with moral authority to bridge divides and build solidarity that can foster peace and prosperity for all humanity. Toward that end, leaders of the world’s faith and wisdom traditions have a shared responsibility to transcend religious divides and work collaboratively to build ethical, just and cohesive societies. As Dr. Hans Kung, co-author of Towards a Declaration of a Global Ethic, noted, “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” Cohesion in diverse and pluralistic societies is possible based on shared values. Though the world’s religious traditions may differ greatly in doctrines and modes of worship, they share broad agreement on the essentials of how people should treat each other. Global Peace Convention interfaith peacebuilding sessions will examine both the implications and practical applications of universal principles in addressing human rights concerns, countering violent extremism, and advancing a “global ethic” to build social cohesion.
Community and national level peace-building models that apply shared values to solve real problems in diverse contexts can provide insights and evidence of the efficacy of the global ethic, taking action on the adage to “think globally and act locally.” Much of the distrust and hatred of the “other” can be mitigated through direct and sustained contact, most especially in neutral settings that promote interaction and understanding based on the shared identity as members of one human family.
Interfaith Peacebuilding Session Summary:
February 28 Session 1 -Shared Values: Key to Cohesion in Diverse Societies
Recent events around the globe highlight the impact of identity- based conflict and call for deeper analysis of the prospects and approaches for achieving “unity in diversity.” This session examines the focus on first principles and shared values as the foundation for building societal cohesion in environments of significant diversity.
March 1 Session 2 - Religious Freedom: an Essential Human Right in a Free and Just Society
Recognizing the central importance of universal principles and shared values in building a free and just society, this session will highlight the essential principle of the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. All people have intrinsic value, dignity, and fundamental rights. These essential attributes and rights are not conferred by laws or governments but are endowed by the Creator.
March 1 Session 3 - Dialogue and Trust: Real Lessons in Countering Violent Extremism
Acts of terror driven by extremism have come to dominate news headlines worldwide. These attacks have far-reaching consequences for individual families, communities, nations, and international relations.
While recognized as a global crisis, efforts to address the roots of radicalism and counter violent extremism can most effectively be addressed at a local level by community and faith leaders who are best positioned to identify those at risk and provide a path to peace and non-violence.
Panelists will explore the root causes of violent extremism, discuss current recruitment and radicalization methods, draw attention to resources and counter-narratives to confront violent extremist messaging, and highlight the importance of building trust within communities.
March 1 Session 4: Strategic and Practical Applications of a Global Ethic on the Local Level: the Role of Faith Leaders
This session explores the strategic and practical applications of a global ethic to solve real problems on the local level. Panelists will present interfaith models from around the globe that demonstrate the role of faith leaders in supporting a local ethic to mitigate conflict, prevent radicalization and encourage inclusive attitudes among diverse groups. In particular, the session will present strategies to engage faith leaders and practitioners in sharing and modeling such values-based approaches within their respective communities.
March 1 Session 5: Building a Better Future: Advancing Social Cohesion through Shared Values and Framing a Global Ethic
Over the last several decades, important work in advancing a global ethic has yielded significant lessons for the global community, particularly in its applications in grassroots work with interfaith leaders around the world. In this session, key contributors to the global ethic initiative will discuss its historical development, lessons learned, and critical strategies needed for the way forward. While global ethic efforts have roots in the late nineteenth century and earlier, panelists will discuss the prospects for significant progress today toward a global ethic in the unique circumstances of our time.
This one-day post-Convention training session will focus on essential skills to foster dialogue and understanding across divided communities, to Led by Dr. Leonard Swidler, Founder of the Dialogue Institute; Rebecca Mays, the institute’s Executive Director; and Dr. Jonathan Keir, a Research Fellow at the University of Tübingen’s Weltethos Institut, the workshop will explore and apply the groundbreaking insights of Global Ethic Project founder and renowned theologian Hans Küng. Designed for scholars, elected officials, faith leaders and practitioners, students and other peace advocates, the training session will provide resources for resolving conflicts, fostering social cohesion, building peace and advancing human development.
“That the need for a global ethic is most urgent is becoming increasingly apparent to all; humankind no longer has the luxury of letting such an ethic slowly and haphazardly grow by itself, as it willy-nilly will gradually happen. It is vital that there be a conscious focusing of energy on such a development. Immediate action is necessary” — Dr. Leonard Swidler, Dialogue Institute, Temple University