The most important moral crisis of our time?
From time to time, we’ll ask religious leaders in our community a question pertaining to religion, faith or spirituality. For our inaugural effort, the question is, what is the most important moral crisis of our time?
Pastor Carl Wilfrid of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
The first thing that comes to my mind is the loss of a commitment to community. I’ve lived in small towns, and I’ve seen people adjust some of their shopping to help a small-town store owner survive, so that the community continues to have that family and those kids in the school and things like that. But as people live more in urban areas and larger suburban areas, you just lose that sense of community. So much of what goes on in business is only about the bottom line—in contrast to that smaller town, where maybe you’d pay a little more to buy your milk at a small-town store, rather than go to the big supermarket. People would make economic sacrifices for the sake of community. So much of what I experience is “It’s the bottom line that matters.” And the bottom line is all that matters: What the [business] decision does to people is purely secondary. On a world scale, the lack of a sense of a community among nations creates war. And global issues like global warming are so difficult to deal with because we don’t have this sense of being connected together.
Rabbi Myra Soifer of Temple Sinai
My answer to that would not, per se, be a moral crisis. My answer is more a crisis of perspective. It’s a perspective that believes that it has a lock on truth—no matter what the issue is that we’re talking about. And that lock on truth, then, is license for a lack of civility, for intolerance, for exclusivity. I think it’s a moral crisis in perspective that has infected pretty much everything.
It goes to politics; it goes to corporate policies; it goes to educational policies; it goes to how we talk to each other on the street. And it certainly is not only faiths, by any means, but it infects every area of human interaction.
There are some folks of a certain human makeup that there is perhaps nothing that can be done. But I think for most folks, it’s a pastoral issue. I think that the world is complicated: People don’t feel safe, and they mistakenly imagine that rigid positions that don’t allow for plural possibilities will protect them. As clergy, it’s our job to bring people a sense of security in the world, no matter how complicated and difficult it is—[to bring] a sense of hopefulness even when the world looks bleak. It’s my notion that most people, if they generally felt anchored in hope and security and that kind of a faith, that they wouldn’t need to be so rigidly exclusionary of varieties of perspectives.
Abdul Barghouthi, president of Northern Nevada Muslim Community Center
Human rights is the most important moral crisis of our time. We live in a world where there is a lot of oppression, and there are a lot of human rights violations, which leads to the economic crush that we have in Third World countries: poverty, disease, the lack of places to live, the lack of cultivated land. Everything we do that affects the other nations in a negative way, I believe is a violation of human rights. We live in a world of very few democracies, but when you look at the democracies that exist, you find they are using other nations to keep their democracies alive. In a world where a very small number of people control the world’s resources, and the vast majority of the world is denied those resources, that’s a human rights violation. That’s really a shameful existence for us human beings.