(This working paper was prepared as a background document for a series of presentations on the human step to an ecological civilization by John Cobb, Matthew Fox, David Korten, Frances Korten, and Jeremy Lent at the forthcoming conference of the Parliament of the World’s Religions to be held in Toronto in November 2018. The PDF of this paper is available to download.)
The world is in agony…. Peace eludes us—the planet is being destroyed—neighbors live in fear—women and men are estranged from each other—children die…. We affirm…there already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order. We declare: 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, for people, animals, and plants, and for the preservation of Earth, the air, water, and soil.
—Declaration Toward a Global Ethic, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, U.S.A., 4 September 1993
Earth is an interconnected whole. What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. Earth is our home, we have nowhere else to go—and time is running out…. We believe that the opportunity to make a difference entails the responsibility to make a difference…. The future we embrace will be a new ecological civilization and a world of peace, justice and sustainability, with the nourishing of the diversity of life. We will build this future as one human family within the greater Earth community.
—Declaration on Climate Change, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Salt Lake City, 13 October 2015
These ringing words from the Parliament of the World’s Religions affirm essential truths foundational to the human future. We are a species in troubled relationship with one another and Earth. Yet we are possessed of the capacity, as well as the responsibility. to choose a future of peace, justice, and care for one another and Earth—an ecological civilization—grounded in the common core values of the world’s religions as framed by the Parliament’s mission and vision statements.