CAN RELIGION BE REGARDED AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR BRINGING JUSTICE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS TODAY?
Автор: Iana Koliasa, Lazarski University, Warsaw, Poland
[Секція 8. Світова економіка та міжнародні відносини;]
Many scholars in the area of religious studies make an emphasis on the significant impact of religion on almost all areas of life, especially on decision-making in international relations. Ninian Smart and Richard D. Hecht have claim that sacred texts of world religions are sources of inspiration, patterns of behavior and perception of reality. Moreover, these scriptures have a substantial role in formation the division on wrong and right norms of behavior in community ( Lepard 2005).
The world's scriptures represent the basic belief that all people as human beings should be united and present one large family. The Torah asserts that it is necessary to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The Hebrew scripture stress on existence one common father for all and the fact that all we were created by one God. Similarly, Buddhist scripture states about the need to care for others in the ways mother loves her children. In addition, Buddha’s teaching is based on assertion that all people regardless their religion and countries belong to one biological kind. The scriptures of Analects encourage people to consider all others as brothers. In accordance with Koran, all people were created from one soul and every individual is a child of Adam. Moreover, we all lived as one family, one community and one nation and only later all were divided around the world.
Christianity also argues for ability to care for every person because we are one human family. It can be demonstrated in the story of Good Samaritan that is one of the famous parables of Jesus Christ, mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. It talks about compassion and selfless assistance to a person in poverty on the part of the Samaritan passer, a representative of the ethnic group that the Jews do not recognize coreligionists. According to some scholars, this parable shows that there are instances of human kindness among all nations and all faiths. Moreover, the law and the commandments of God are executed by people of different nationalities and different religions. One of the highlights of this parable is the interpretation of the word "neighbor” to the questioner and scribe and Jesus Christ. The neighbor is the man who belongs to one family or a common ethnic or religious group. According to many researchers, these words, among others, have also expressed the need to consider the neighbor as every person who is in trouble or in need of help.
The main idea of the youngest religion Bahai Faith is the unity of God, religion and humanity. The basic principle of the Baha'i Faith is an independent search for truth, equality between men and women, the unity of science and religion, the rejection of all forms of prejudice including racial, sexual, ethnic or religious, universal education, the construction of a new civilization which is based on spirituality. Bahai states that there is only one religion as immutable faith of God which is an eternal in the past and in the future. In addition, Earth is the only one state and all people are its citizens. The purpose of the Baha'i religion is to realize the unity of humanity and achieve the world peace (Bahai Topics 2014).
According to the Golden Rule which has an important place in all religious scriptures, all people should treat others in the same way as they want to be treated. It has to be identified by other principles of morality and not just our personal options (Lepard 2005, p. 35). Morale embodies the unity of the individual, personal and general and as Kant stated that man is subject to morality not only his own but also common law. The universality of the Golden Rule of morality emphasizes the fact that it arose in the middle of the first millennium BC, almost simultaneously and independently in different cultures but substantial part has similar wording. The golden rule of morality doesn’t only formulate the general rate of relationships with other people but also provides a mechanism to detect such universality. When person imagine her on the place of other person, other person has to have similar degree of humanness, dignity and feeling of fairness as you would want. In this sense, the Golden Rule oversteps the divide of class, status and the color of skin. This is what does the Golden Rule such strong and universal principle ( Putnam 2006).
As an expression of a general philosophical and moral law, the golden rule may have different views in different cultures. In most cases, it is the shortest and the most important ethical principle. The Torah teaches to love our fellows as we love ourselves and the things that we don’t like we shouldn’t do in relation to others. It can be explained by the teaching that all people are created according to God’s image and that’s why all should act similarly to him. The Buddha claims that we should feel us on the place of others and this will not allow harming others more than we would like to be harmed. Confucius teaches that all shouldn’t do actions that they want that others do with relation to them. Jesus argues about treatment others even better than we want to be treated because we need not consider our own interests firstly but the interests of others.
In the Koran, the golden rule is not found but it is both in the positive and negative interpretation of Sunnah as one of the sayings of Muhammad who taught that all people should treat others as they want to be treated.The scripture of Bahai teaches people don’t wish to others that they don’t wish for themselves. The Golden Rule has the same essence in all religions and the difference is only in interpretation and examples.
The implementation of good deeds is stressed in the scriptures of all main religions. Religion teaches us the virtues because good deeds are the basis of organic development of all society. Compassion is not going anywhere not disappear because the results are always good things in society, and sooner or later they will return to the one who did them. However, the views on what is good change according to the change of social and economic systems, people still believe that good is all positive, good and useful. For instance, Buddha teaches to make good deeds and do attempts to control the minds. The different parables demonstrate necessity and importance of good deeds such as Good Samaritan in Christianity. Bahai and Koran require not just speaking good words and forget about them but confirm all that we say by performing of good deeds. People should endeavor to implement their ideals and don’t just
describe them without any actions. All words should not differ from the deeds ( Lepard 2005, p. 39).
The necessity to possess and develop some personal virtues and perform appropriate moral duties is detailed described in main scriptures of world religions. The goodness and compassion are the two virtues which should all people have in relation to others. However, there are cases when people should close their eyes on own kindness and treat criminals according to justice. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that people haven’t the right to do injury to any living creature and should demonstrate just kindness and compassion. Confucius firstly place justice and only than kindness. Jesus encourages acting kindly and expression the compassion to others. Christianity teaches to love even people who did bad deeds with relation to us, even our enemies. According to Buddha, love and compassion is a powerful tool to address a large number of negative karma and the best way to solve all problems. Compassion and kindness can eliminate even the most powerful negative karma for a moment. Disinterestedness and generosity are others personal virtues which are necessary to possess. The teachings of scriptures inspire us to give and don’t expect it in return. Selfishness is strictly criticized because selfish people don’t think about what others feel and that’s why they violate the majority of all moral principles. Buddha teaches to give willingly our wealth to those who really experienced difficulties and suffer.
All religious people should voluntarily provide the assistance for injured, poor and needy because all people belong to one human family. Every person has to be patient and forgive others all offences. The passages from all religious scriptures inspire to forget about acts of harm and anger by others. Buddhist scripture teaches respond to bad deeds by love and compassion but not hate. Jesus argues that if we don’t forgive, God also will not forgive our deeds. The same attitude to forgiveness is in Koran and Bahai Faith. Also many religions argue against use of force in international affairs, for instance Confucius teaches that all should aspire for avoidance of competition and just try to achieve harmony in all areas of life.
All the scriptures of world religions demand honesty, devotion to promises and humility. It is required to speak the truth and don’t use false speech for any benefits in any life situation. The implementation of promises is obligatory according to Buddha, Torah, Bhagavad Gita, Confucius, Jesus and others. Also Bahai Faith states that it is very dishonest don’t keep the promises and in the case when person don’t perform his promise he shouldn’t assure about anything. We should make decisions because it is the right choice and not our self-interest. In accordance with Koran, justice is on the first place and we should operate justly despite the feelings of our close people.
Human dignity received increased attention because of the fact that it belongs to everyone from birth and does not depend on the citizenship of the state. Bhagavad Gita and Koran states that all people are equal regardless their citizenship, gender, color of skin, religion. The Torah encourages people to have good attitude to foreigners and respect their freedom. Buddha claims that all people as human beings belong to the same biological species. Bahai Faith also states that all prejudices and any discrimination about gender, race and others should be excluded.
Before the events of 11 September, world religions such as Christianity and Islam were an integral part of the policy 19th and 20th centuries, both on the local and global level. For example, American Protestant theologians and religious activists played a crucial role in the creation of the League of Nations after 1919 and the United Nations in 1946. European Christian Democrats in Italy, Germany, the Benelux countries and France had taken the first steps towards the establishment of the project of European integration and expansion in the 1950s. Today in Europe there are still remnants of the Christian state which has kept the legacy fusion of Greco-Roman philosophy and biblical revelation (Pabst 2013).
Since the break up USSR and particularly after the attacks of 9/11 there has been rising talks of the identification role of religion in formation the pattern of behavior of countries toward each other. The first proof of such concern was the wide discussion of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations in which he claims that religion will be the most considerable label of identity and the crucial factor of conflicts in international affairs. The universities in the USA began proposing courses in Religion and international relations under a wide variety of programs because of increasing interest in the subject. The examples of using religious principles for decisions by key leaders can be demonstrated in approach of the President Jimmi Carter to the Middle East conflicts about human rights which was defined by his Christian persuasions. Also the policies of George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Iraq’s issues were determined by their respect to religious convictions. However, it is interesting that George W. Bush, calling for a merciless war against international terrorism, appealed to God, believing that God is in this fight is not neutral. But Bin Laden also appealed to God. Similar to actions of state actors, the behavior of non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda and HAMAS also can be explained by religious reasons but with anger and bad deeds ( Hunter 2010).
In the past, religion had a great impact on the behavior of international actors; however, the role of religion was not so observed. Nowadays the situation has not changed and religion can be used as source of conflicts or the reason for making the peace. Religious scriptures have substantial impact especially on decision-making and resolving conflicts in international relations.
Today many famous people refer to own religious persuasion in resolving conflicts on international arena. For instance, Syrian conflict is one of the conflicts where religious beliefs of different leaders can have substantial impact not only on Syria but on other countries. The head of the Council of Ulema of the Russian Association of Islamic Accord (RAIS - Russian mufti), Farid Salman spoke on behalf of the Council with a statement in which he urged the leaders of the U.S., France and Turkey about refusal from attacks in Syria. He states that it seems that the U.S. government imagined themselves the sole owner on the planet. Believers in God know that the Egyptian Pharaoh once imagined himself as the Supreme Lord in the world and God determined the punishment for him in another world. He asked to cease all kinds of humanitarian interventions and don’t allow that world go in the new world war. RAIS representative reminded Barack Obama that his predecessors has unleashed war and bloodshed in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan ( News, 2013). Also, Maduro, the President of Venezuela sent the letter to Barack Obama and asked him to cease any intervention in Syria. The main reason of such obvious peace policy by churches in resolving Syrian crisis is the religious convictions that don’t allow anger, injury, hostility and other immoral actions towards people.
Religion has many impacts on international affairs including its capacity to be source of justice, change the world views of famous leaders and their citizens and negative influences such as source of terrorism and different conflicts. The proof that religion can have influence on views of peoples is obvious because of wide number of warfare and long conflicts. For instance, the decisions a lot dependent on policy maker’s religious beliefs and this can lead to positive or negative consequences such as international incidents. The authority of Iran can feel that its actions are divinely inspired and cannot be false that’s why it continues to develop the nuclear arms program. The other example is Arab-Israeli conflict where both leaders should consider the possible reactions of their population on any agreement especially with relation to placing sacred sites.
To sum up, analysis of main religious principles of the widespread world scriptures confirms that religion can be regarded as a source of inspiration for bringing justice in international affairs. Despite the differences between all religions they all have the same principles of morality toward people but have dissimilar formulation of them. Religion performs a regulatory role in our society by teaching to live in accordance with morality and peaceful coexistence regardless the status, race, gender and policy perceptions. People follow religious teachings from scriptures and use them for justice and making decisions in international relations.
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