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Celebrating Shared Values Across Faiths and Traditions
Neil Gonsalves discusses the foundational principles we can derive from the combined wisdom of various faiths and traditions
In a time marked by complex challenges and growing polarization in our communities, I would like to contribute to an environment where differences are celebrated, where more people feeling comfortable enough to join the conversation, and where we unite in our common humanity.
I turned to a source of profound wisdom and guidance: the diverse value systems of the world’s belief traditions. Our world is a tapestry of cultures, faiths, and philosophies, each with its unique values and principles. At first glance, these belief systems may seem vastly distinct, but a closer examination reveals a shared foundation of virtues that can guide us toward a more harmonious and inclusive future.
I invite you to explore the remarkable commonalities that exist among major traditional values from different faiths and philosophies through a Kantian lens. (Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is a central figure in modern philosophy. He synthesized early modern rationalism and empiricism)
I started by digging up some common values shared by eleven systems of knowledge. They are based on the specific systems quoted below: (I did not do a deep dive, just a quick review of values)
Belief Systems, Values and Principles
Indigenous: Love, Respect, Courage, Truth, Honesty, Humility, Wisdom
Hindu: Truth, Right Conduct, Love, Peace, Non-Violence
Jewish: Life, Peace, Justice, Mercy, Scholarship, Sincerity of Intention
Muslim: Bravery, Consideration, Experience, Fairness, Justice, Honesty, Pursuit of Knowledge
Christian: Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance (Tolerance/Patience), Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control
Buddhist: Wisdom, Kindness, Patience, Generosity, Compassion
Sikh: Equality, Social Justice, Service to Humanity, Tolerance for other religions
Zoroastrian: Honesty, Charity, Love, Moderation without expecting praise or reward
Kantian: Respect for the humanity in others, Acting in accordance with rules that could hold for everyone
Aristotelian: Prudence (Wisdom), Justice, Temperance, Courage
Wiccan: Do no harm, Mirth (Happiness), Reverence (Respect), Honour, Humility, Strength, Beauty, Power, Compassion
From a Kantian perspective, the values outlined in these diverse traditions can be evaluated through the lens of the categorical imperative, which asserts that one should act only according to principles that could be applied universally. By analyzing these values through a Kantian framework, we can recognize how many ethical principles across traditions converge with the universalizability criterion. This approach emphasizes shared principles and a commitment to treating others with the same dignity and respect that we expect for ourselves.
I combined them and produced a list of foundational principles that can serve as the common ground for reducing social polarization and fostering cultural competence.
Foundational principles distilled from the values of major faith and traditional teachings:
Love and Compassion: Prioritize love and compassion in all interactions and decisions.
Power and Responsibility: Recognize the responsibility that comes with power and influence.
Justice and Fairness: Advocate for justice and fairness, ensuring equal treatment for all.
Wisdom and Knowledge: Seek wisdom and knowledge for informed decision-making.
Prudence and Restraint: Develop the capacity to govern your actions with restraint
Kindness and Patience: Practice tolerance and understanding.
Generosity and Charity: Embrace generosity and charity to support those in need.
Truth and Honesty: Uphold truth and honesty as guiding principles for integrity.
Service to Humanity: Commit to service to humanity for the greater good.
Respect and Reverence: Show respect and reverence for the uniqueness of individuals and cultures.
Courage and Strength: Demonstrate courage and inner strength in overcoming challenges.
Humility and Modesty: Embrace humility and modesty, acknowledging our interconnectedness.
Sincerity and Integrity: Act with sincerity and integrity, fostering trust and transparency.
Gentleness: Foster respect and empathy.
Self-Control and Self-Improvement: Exercise self-control and commit to self-improvement.
Peace and Non-Violence: Promote peace and non-violence as fundamental values for conflict resolution.
Joy: Acknowledging the importance of happiness.
The promotion of dialogue and understanding among traditions may be viewed as a moral duty based on a Kantian analysis of today's world. It may serve as the common ground for reducing social polarization and fostering cultural competence between different belief systems, demonstrating the rich tapestry of common values that unite us all. Recognizing common ground allows us the opportunity to celebrate viewpoint diversity, and work towards reducing social polarization.
By embracing the common values that unite us and evaluating them through the lens of the categorical imperative, we can reduce social polarization and move towards a more inclusive society. A society that is built on the principles of universal ethics and moral duty, where diversity is a source of strength, and inclusion rather than a fault line along which we divide society up into innumerable sub-groups.
About the Author: Neil Gonsalves is an Indian-born Canadian immigrant who grew up in Dubai, U.A.E. and moved to Canada in 1995. He is an Ontario college educator, a TEDx speaker, an author and columnist, a recreational dog trainer and an advocate for new immigrant integration and viewpoint diversity.