For two days recently, thanks to the kind invitation of
While the project is entirely theological in nature within the specific traditions of the Abrahamic faiths, I found its dynamic fundamentally supportive of the global efforts of the Caux Round Table. It is this point of optimism that I would like to share with you.
Now, while working for the Caux Round Table it has been my observation that a great obstacle to implementation of the CRT Principles and to business ethics and CSR in general is a high level of cynicism in modern global culture.
We as a global people are not convinced that ideals and ethics have traction in business and government. We are instead more prone to believe in the efficacy of power, money, celebrity, ego, and selfishness narrowly considered. Under these circumstances, giving fealty to the right and to the common good seems a bit naïve, even at times foolish when our interests are to be secured.
A support for this cynicism comes easily from a moral nihilism that there are no enduring values or truths common to humankind. Each person’s truth is personal and multi-cultural discourse within the babel of human demands and protests is the best we can hope for under the circumstances.
And evidence for the reality of this nihilism comes from our perceptions of Religion. Religion, as many say, is part of the problem; it divides us and keeps us apart living in separate cultural cul-de-sacs.
Now, if the contrary should happened to be true, if there are, in fact, common affirmations among at least some religions, then nihilism would meet some opposition. Selfishness would then have to confront the call of a common good.
So there I was listening to Muslim clerics like the Grand Mufti of Egypt, the Sultan of Sokoto, Seyyed Jawad al-Khoei, son and grandson of Grand Ayatoullahs, and Christian leaders such as Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Cardinal McCarrick, and Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London all speaking within a common framework of Biblical and Qur’anic teachings.
For quite a time I took the proceedings superficially: here was an interesting inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue. Everyone was agreeable, articulate, respectful, giving of their ideas and concerns – what was not to like?
Slowly the conviction emerged, first within my subconscience, then more overtly, and finally very powerfully after the conference was over and I was on the plane flying home, that I was in the middle of a great blessing. Muslims and Christians were together seeking a common truth in a theological understanding each could accept.
The words of an old hymn in our Unitarian Hymnal came to mind as I was flying somewhere above Ohio: “For we make God’s love too narrow by false limits of our own, and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own, for the love of God is broader than the measures of man’s mind.”
Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad bin Talal of Jordan commenced the initiative under Qur’anic guidance that Muslims should seek “a common word” with Jews and Christians. Such revelation has been in Qur’an for centuries without many of the Muslim faithful taking it that seriously it seems in retrospect. But at Prince Ghazi’s invitation some 138 Muslim scholars and clerics from Sunni, Sh’ia, and Sufi traditions signed a joint letter to Christian leaders proposing two propositions as The Common Word indicated by Qur’an.
The suggested two faith propositions are: 1) love God above all else and with all thy heart; and 2) love thy neighbor as thyself.
Many Christian leaders have replied affirmatively, accepting for themselves the fundamental importance of these two faith statements.
I can only report to you that The Common Word approach seems to work. It is a breakthrough in more fully humanizing us as moral beings. The effort has a website at: www.acommonword.com should you be interested in learning more.
If Muslims and Christians can now find a Common Word between them, how difficult can it be to find the path of common good in Capitalism?